'It's been a big part of my healing': Prophets of Music honours 2 musicians killed in Brentwood stabbings

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'It's been a big part of my healing': Prophets of Music honours 2 musicians killed in Brentwood stabbings

'It's been a big part of my healing': Prophets of Music honours 2 musicians killed in Brentwood stabbings

In the dark days after Josh Hunter and Zack Rathwell died, Josh's father decided he needed to do something to honour his son and survive his grief. 

"Within a couple of days I started thinking about something I could do to help get through this absolutely overwhelming feeling of grief and loss," said Barclay Hunter. "It's not that you ever get through it, it's just finding a way to bring meaning into your day."

Bandmates Hunter, 23, and Rathwell, 21, were stabbed to death alongside Lawrence Hong, Kaitlin Perras and Jordan Segura as they celebrated the end of university classes on April 15, 2014. Matthew de Grood was sent to a secure hospital after being found not criminally responsible for their deaths because he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time. 

'Something negative into an overwhelming positive'

As a tribute to his son and Zack, Barclay decided to help other emerging artists and created an organization called Prophets of Music — a play on Hunter and Rathwell's band, Zackariah and the Prophets.

"I feel a certain sense of responsibility to bring positivity to the community through this program," said Brett McCrady, one of the artists selected for the program.

"I think that music can really be a shining light in the community ... Prophets of Music has really achieved their goal of turning something negative into an overwhelming positive."

'They were amazing guys'

Just wrapping up its first year, the organization selected three acts — McCrady, The Ashley Hundred and High Love — out of about 50 applicants and helped their development with supports worth more than $30,000.

The artists received months of intense attention, including business essentials, brand development, mentorship and musical education, culminating in an album and a performance showcase on April 29. 

Carson Stewart of The Ashley Hundred said some of his bandmates were friends with Josh and Zack.

"They were amazing guys and such talented musicians," he said. "It was a budding friendship that we didn't fully get to explore."

Their deaths weighed heavily on a tight-knit music community in Calgary.

"It was devastating and we were all thankful to have each other there to support each other and grieve together and hurt together, definitely couldn't have done it alone," said Andrew Franks who plays guitar and keyboard in The Ashley Hundred.

Taking artists to the next level

One of the biggest contributors to Prophets of Music is Dan Owen, the owner of OCL Studios where the bands recorded their albums. 

"We all just offer up our time, talent and treasure however we can to forward the cause and become prophets of music," said Owen.

The goal of the program is to bring the artists' music to the next level.

"They really went above and beyond our expectations," said Franks. "They funded our whole album."

Normally a solo artist, McCrady lined up a five-piece band through the program. One of the musicians he selected is Barry Mason who was in Zackariah and the Prophets with Hunter and Rathwell.

"Those were my best friends," said Mason. "Obviously [Prophets of Music] started from a very sad thing that happened, but it's positivity that's coming out of that."

Stewart says they're doing this because Hunter and Rathwell can't, something he says he thinks about a lot.

"There's so many things you can do with life, it`s a hard path to go down to try and be a professional musician, but just to carry on their memory and honour them every time we play," he said of the meaning behind his music. 

Performance

The public will have a chance to preview the results of the project when the Ashley Hundred, Brett McCrady and High Love play at The Palace Theatre on Saturday night. 

"This function on this Saturday is their graduation," said Owen. "We've been with them on this journey ... we're very, very proud of them."

Barclay Hunter is already looking forward to working with the next batch of musicians.

"It's been very meaningful to build relationships with all of these great people and it's been a big part of my healing," he said.