Here are the songs for the 2021 Canadian Music Class Challenge

From top left, clockwise: Dominique Fils-Aimé, Leela Gilday, Mother Mother and Arkells all have songs in this year’s Canadian Music Class Challenge. (Clockwise, L-R: Andreanne Gauthier/Pat Kane/Rich Smith/Arkells)

CBC Music in association with MusiCounts is proud to announce the song list for the 2021 Canadian Music Class Challenge, which returns this fall. 

We know that September will once again look and feel differently than any other school year in the past, even, in some ways, from last year. We are also aware that many music programs will be continue to be impacted. 

With that said, this year’s Challenge will continue to move with our times. We’re still asking for a video performance, but we ask that the video performance is done with your recommended provincial safety measures in mind. We invite you to check out performances from last year for inspiration, like these

Whether your music class is planning to come together in person or online, please keep reading about the Music Class Challenge below.

The Canadian Music Class Challenge has returned for 2021. (CBC)

Here is this year’s incredible list of songs to choose from: 

  • “While we Wait” by Dominique Fils-Aimé.
  • “Wonder” by Shawn Mendes.
  • “I Got Love” by Mother Mother.
  • “The Anthem” by Kardinal Offishall.
  • “Knocking at the Door” by Arkells.
  • “One Drum” by Leela Gilday.
  • “Ciel” by FouKi featuring Alicia Moffet.
  • “Salvation” by the Strumbellas.
  • “Hey Dum, Diddley, Dum” by Sharon, Lois and Bram.
  • “Up we Go” by Lights.
  • “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado.
  • “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy.
  • “Slow Fade” by Ruth B.
  • “Sandwiches” by Fred Penner.
  • “Safe and Sound” by Hawksley Workman.
  • “Strawberry Moon (Ode’min Giizis)” by Tara Williamson.
  • “When the Night Feels my Song” by Bedouin Soundclash.
  • “On my Own” by Jessa Sky.
  • “Top of my School” by Katherine Lynn-Rose.
  • “Umami” by Klô Pelgag.
  • “C’est l’aviron” (traditional).
  • “Warrior'” by Rachel Beck.
  • “Small but Mighty” by Ginalina.
  • “Nerve” by Nuela Charles.

Choose a song from the list, then teach it to your students once classes commence in the fall of 2021. 

If you’re a teacher of an elementary, junior high, high school, after-school class, music club, or community music program, or know somebody who is, be sure to share this song list with them. If you’re a music student or parent of one, be sure to alert your music teacher. The challenge is open to students at the elementary, junior-high, and high-school levels.

Registration for the 2021 Canadian Music Class Challenge begins on Aug. 31, 2021, and video submissions will be accepted starting Oct. 5 and closing Nov. 23. If our celebrity judges pick your performance, your class or school could win amazing prizes for your music program!

Find out more about the songs — and get some of the sheet music and lyrics where available — below.


‘While we Wait’ by Dominique Fils-Aimé

A stunningly great song that straddles the eras of soul and serves as a kind of Part 2 to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” — while we still wait for that change almost 40 years later. Highly recommended for choirs and vocal ensembles!


‘Wonder’ by Shawn Mendes

The pop wunderkind from Pickering scores yet another global smash hit with this anthemic power ballad that challenges the culture of toxic masculinity. 

Find the sheet music here.


‘I Got Love’ by Mother Mother

An exceptional over-the-top, feel-good rock song about accepting your body and loving yourself unconditionally. Great for rock schools!

Find the guitar tabs and lyrics here


‘The Anthem’ by Kardinal Offishall

The title says it all! This 20-year-old hip-hop classic is responsible for coining the Toronto nickname the T-dot — and the rest is history! Have fun with this one. 

Find the lyrics here.


‘Knocking at the Door’ by Arkells

Speaking of anthems, this explosive rock song has become just that for Arkells fans. Both a radio hit and a rallying cry at their live shows, this bombastic tune is great for rock bands, brass sections, orchestras, choirs and more. 

Find the sheet music here.


‘One Drum’ by Leela Gilday

A two-time Juno winner, this Dene artist from the Northwest Territories have proven herself to be one of Canada’s most gifted singer-songwriters in voice, melody and message. “One Drum” is at the top of the list when it comes to Gilday’s most powerful and enduring sing-along songs.

Find the chord sheet here


‘Ciel’ by FouKi featuring Alicia Moffet

This is a great French-English language duet done in a laidback hip-hop/reggae style by a Montreal producer on the rise and an award-winning Quebec pop star. 

Find the chord sheet here.


‘Salvation’ by the Strumbellas

What a great song! Performed in an upbeat indie-folk-rock style, this soaring song was a top 10 hit in Canada. If you decide to tackle this super fun tune, chances are you’ll be dancing along with your performance in no time.

Find the guitar tabs and lyrics here.


‘Hey Dum, Diddley, Dum’ by Sharon, Lois and Bram

This phenomenon that is Sharon, Lois, and Bram is one of the most beloved in Canadian children’s music history. This is one of their classic songs, dating back to the late 1970s, and it still stands up in a fun, catchy and innocent way.

Find the lyrics here.


‘Up we Go’ by Lights

This tight and energized electro-pop song was a big hit for Lights in 2014, and was a certified Gold top 10 hit. The chorus of this song was described as “impossibly catchy” by Australia’s Music Feeds magazine.

Find the guitar tabs here and the lyrics here.


‘I’m Like a Bird’ by Nelly Furtado

This contemporary pop song was a major worldwide hit for the Victoria, B.C., singer. The song also won the 2002 Grammy Award for best female pop performance (marking the last time a Canadian singer has won this category) and the 2001 Juno Award for single of the year. Take flight with this song!

Find the sheet music here


‘Working for the Weekend’ by Loverboy

Featuring one of the most memorable choruses in Canadian music history, this classic rock song may be turning 40 years old in 2021, but has managed to maintain its cachet in pop culture year after year. Truly an international breakout hit single. More cowbell!

Find the sheet music here.


‘Slow Fade’ by Ruth B.

A beautiful, piano-driven pop-R&B ballad that would be perfect for small ensembles or larger choirs from this Edmonton star.

Find the sheet music here.


‘Sandwiches’ by Fred Penner

A yummy kids classic by beloved and cross-generational Canadian children’s performer Fred Penner.

Find the sheet music here.


‘Safe and Sound’ by Hawksley Workman

This Canadian indie road-trip classic dates back to Workman’s debut album from 2000, and the song has maintained its quiet resonance ever since. No better word play than on this sing-along! 

Find the guitar tabs and lyrics here.


‘Strawberry Moon (Ode’min Giizis)’ by Tara Williamson

Choose this song to help your students learn Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Anishinaabe nation, which is considered one of the “oldest and most historically important Native American languages in North America.” This brand new, exclusive video includes a phonetic guide to help your students with the pronunciation of the lyrics. Perfect for elementary school ages.

Please email us at [email protected] for a copy of the lyrics.


‘When the Night Feels my Song’ by Bedouin Soundclash

This platinum-selling beauty of a reggae-ska hit has turned into a Canadian classic since it was first released in 2004. Very easy and fun to play and sing!

Find the sheet music here.


‘On my Own’ by Jessa Sky

This is the debut single from the Cree-Métis singer-songwriter, who placed in the Top 100 of Searchlight 2021. 


‘Top of my School’ by Katherine Lynn-Rose

This high school YouTube star came to our attention when she entered our Searchlight contest. This incredible original song of hers is written in the creative and infectious style of a musical, and the lyrics are about being a 17-year-old super achiever. Check it out! 

Find the guitar tabs and lyrics here.


‘Umami’ by Klô Pelgag

A very catchy and highly sing-alongable French-language pop song by this award-winning Quebec star on the rise.


‘C’est l’aviron’ (traditional)

This is a very old Québécois folk song that dates back to the 17th century and the era of the Voyageurs, French-Canadian adventurers who were involved in the fur trade, transporting fur by canoe over great distances and many hardships.

Find the sheet music here.


‘Warrior’ by Rachel Beck

A strong electro-pop song celebrating strength, beauty and female empowerment from this Charlottetown songwriter.

Find the lyrics here


‘Small but Mighty’ by Ginalina

This award-winning children’s entertainer has delivered the perfect song that sings of every child’s potential to make the world a better place. This is a powerful sing-along and must-listen for all kids, parents, teachers and educators! 


‘Nerve’ by Nuela Charles

If you’re looking for a song that’s anthemic with a groove, look no further. “Nerve” by  Edmonton based alternative soul/singer-songwriter Nuela Charles will have students stomping their feet and clapping their hands. 

Find the song lyrics here


Which song, or songs, will your class choose?

Sign up for the 2021 Canadian Music Class Challenge here.

If you have any questions please feel free to email us at [email protected], or register for our newsletter in the box below. 

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