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Singing Cochrane grandkids coming to Innisfail’s light

Turner and Tessa Bates turned heads in June and have been invited back to the Innisfail Lantern Festival
MVT Cochrane singers Lantern festival
Cochrane's Turner and Tessa Bates at Innisfail's Pride event in June. They are top athletic and academic students but they have not ruled out a career in music. They will be performing at the Innisfail Lantern Festival on Aug. 20. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL - When the main event for this year’s Innisfail Lantern Festival shines throughout Centennial Park on Aug. 20, there’s a promise of spectacular and creative displays of light.

There will also be plenty of creativity with sound, as organizers are inviting an array of talented musical guests to entertain what’s expected to be a large gathering for the free second annual event.

However, there will be many coming who might have already heard the moving performance just two months earlier by two Cochrane teens who performed a 40-minute set at the second annual Innisfail Pride event.

The light from the festival could indeed shine on them.

They are a brother and sister Bates team from Cochrane. Turner is 16. Tessa is 14. They are both honour students at Cochrane’s Bow Valley High School. Turner is going into Grade 11 while Tessa heads to Grade 9.

They are also talented athletes. Turner plays hockey and lacrosse. And Tessa? Well, she does plenty too, like ringette, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, track and badminton.

 They are the grandchildren of  Innisfailians Gavin Bates and Dave Halfhide, who proudly watched them in-person at the June 18 Pride event.

“I think they display amazing talent, especially with how they harmonize,” said Gavin proudly. “I think they have natural singing talent, and perform extremely well together.”

With just Turner’s acoustic guitar as instrumental accompaniment, the pair impressed many with their song selection. This was not an act that blasted out the noisy funk and metal from today’s heavily commercialized music scene.

They dug much deeper to fit the occasion; offering their takes on such classics as John Lennon’s Imagine, and the more recent Be a Light; a deeply socially conscious song recorded by American country music singer Thomas Rhett.

“We heard about the Pride festival from our grandpa, and he asked us if we were interested in possibly playing. We said that we'd love to come out and share our music,” said Turner. “I think it's important that we do take a look at this stuff. If we don't raise awareness and find a way to work it into our everyday lives, it will be forgotten about because a lot of people are in situations where they either can't be in their home or they don't feel safe in society.”

While both teens give all appearances of taking a solid path forward with impressive athletic and academic accomplishments, they have not ruled out music in their futures.

“I think it would be incredible to be a famous musician one day or even just go anywhere with my music just because it's so fun for me and it's more than a hobby,” said Tessa. “Right now, it's just a hobby but I feel like it would be awesome if it could be more.”

They have not yet seriously tried to write their own songs, but both do not rule it out. Turner added he has started to record and dabble in music production.

“I'm hoping to just try and get out there and see where it goes,” said Turner. “But if I could eventually take a profession in music that would be amazing.”


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