Adult-contemporary pop artist Rebecca Binnendyk is on a mission to use her songs for greater good. The Canadian singer-songwriter, who has delivered medical supplies to the Maasai tribe and taught sex education and music to young people in Uganda, plans to pair the promotion of her second album, I Don’t Belong To You, with raising money for Plan International Canada, a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights, equality and education for girls and the putting an end to female genital cutting which affects 3.9 million annually women and girls globally.
“The music is the platform, but the bigger picture and more important work is supporting women globally in social and economic ways,” says Rebecca. “I have a very deep love of people and this inner belief that anything is possible if you try. That’s very much the way I live my life.”
The tango-infused title-track, “I Don’t Belong To You,” co-written with Ireland’s Mark Caplice (Eurovision) and Twin Monarch’s Rob Shiels (Taken, Ryan O’Shaughnessy) is a message of female empowerment, delivered in a sultry and strong manner that categorically says, “I am my own person.” It’s her “angry song,” she says, about men who use their wealth and power to take advantage of women and girls.
Produced by Steve Wingfield(Sandi Patty), with four co-writes with Irish duo Twin Monarch, most of the nine original songs on I Don’t Belong To You are relationship-focused, from the breakdown of a marriage in the sprightly pop of “Baby Back” to the unconditional love expressed in the ballad “I Like It When You Love Me.”
The first single, “Brick By Brick,” however, has a dual meaning. “When we were writing the song, Trump was talking about building a wall between the United States and Mexico, so we were discussing the division between cultures, races and even countries,” Rebecca says. “But it’s also about walls being built between people, inspired by a friend who hadn’t talked with his parents for years, because of a disagreement. The question we wanted the song to ask is can we accept our differences, forgive and move on?”
Born in the small town of Port Elgin, Ontario, Rebecca grew up singing in the church, surrounded by inspirational music, with the odd deviation into Cat Stevens, Elton John and Billy Joel. She was even a part of the international Christian singing group The Continentals. At Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo — where she is currently based — she studied music, but when presented with the opportunity went to China to teach, before enrolling in the Bachelor of Education program back at Laurier.
But Rebecca didn’t want to be a traditional teacher. A self-described idealist, she wanted to make a bigger change than she felt she could in a classroom and believed her passion for music was the way to do it.
Exposed to jazz for the first time in her 20s — a style of music which reflects her free-spirited personality — Rebecca recorded her debut album, 2016’s Some Fun Out of Life, a collection of jazz standards and reimagined pop covers. Her fans contributed to it through a crowdfunding campaign. Following the release, Rebecca participated in a week-long songwriting workshop, which opened up the creative floodgates and was a turning point career-wise. She had written very little up to this point.
The connections she made there took her to Ireland to write with Twin Monarch and Ryan O'Shaughnessy (Britain’s Got Talent top 5). Another crowdfunding campaign, that she ran while singing six nights a week at Lebua State Tower in Thailand, raised enough money for her to make her first album of originals — I Don’t Belong To You.
Now Rebecca is on a mission to relay to her fans what she has learned and experienced through her travels.
“My heart aches for the world. Maybe together we can make a difference. I realize how similar we are, not how different. I’ve been told I would be doing the world an injustice if I didn't do something,” Rebecca says. “To be perfectly honest, it's really hard for me to step out and do this because occasionally I want to run and hide, disappear or just sing to the trees. I feel the pain and the needs of the world so deeply. If there's a bigger purpose, I better do it.”
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