NORTH BAY -- "By making other people happy, it makes us happy," said a member from North Bay’s newest choir group who used music to help overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea came to life close to a year ago, but it wasn’t until March that the North Bay Rock Choir was ready to really get started.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group of about 20 members had to adjust their plans from the very beginning.

"Obviously there was no in person gathering at that point, so we had some friends in the sound, audio business and they suggested we try the virtual way," said Founder Heather Smith.

"So we all made a recording on our own, sent it in to them and they put it all together to make a beautiful, beautiful piece."

The choir now has one song and video posted on YouTube, which it dedicated to the city of North Bay.

"It’s a really special piece," said Smith.

"We decided since it was the pandemic and we’re all feeling sad and awkward and just not happy that we would choose Lean on Me with We Shall Overcome. Just the message of hope and inspiration that we wanted to share with our community."

Even though it was recorded differently than planned in order to follow COVID protocols, choir members say it still brought them together as a group.

"The whole idea of it was 'what if we just get together and learn these tones and record them and let’s create a video, let’s create a sound track,'" said member Liseanne Boissonneault.

"That was a lot of fun and it gave us something to focus on. At the same time we knew we were working with other people, we weren’t alone. Even though we were recording the song in our homes, we knew that it was going to come together and we would be with our friends and we would have created this amazing thing."

Overall, North Bay Rock Choir members say the group helped them get through the pandemic and the uncertain months that came with COVID-19.

"It is the best feeling," said member Christine Piche.

"In these uncertain times it’s the best thing for anybody. It’s very healing, it’s good for the soul and when we go to choir practice, we have in the rain and in not very good conditions, but after you sing it doesn’t matter. You still come away feeling very very good."

Boissonneault adds, "I think music just uplifts the soul. It does wonders, it carries people through in difficult times. I lost my mother during the COVID pandemic so if it wasn’t for my rock choir family members and members, I belong to other choirs too, and our extended music family… I really relied on their support and they really helped me a lot during this time."

Now that pandemic restrictions have started to ease the choir is able to rehearse in person while still practicing physical distancing.

The members split into two groups in order to keep numbers down and practice outside on Boissonneault’s deck which has become their mini stage for the time being.

"We are starting to go around and perform for people outside for any event actually," said Smith.

"We’ve been to birthday parades, we’ve preformed for people who are ill, people who ae recovering from surgery, and we even have a wedding coming up."

Piche adds, "I have heard the best from everybody. Really good good comments and even fellow choir members are commenting how inspiring it is and how good it is for us."

"I think that’s why we did the Rock Choir, is to let people know that they’re not alone," said Boissonneault.

"This is a difficult time but we have each other and we have music to carry us through."

Although North Bay Rock Choir has found a way to stand strong during the pandemic and still produce music, all the members are looking forward to performing in person as soon as it is safe to do so.