She wasn’t here long — just to visit her parents — but something about Niagara obviously stuck with Toronto singer POESY.
When the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games arrive next year, it will be POESY’s soaring single “Steel Heart” you’ll be hearing everywhere. The anthem was commissioned specifically for the Games and she’ll be singing it during both the opening ceremony (Aug. 6 at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines) and closing ceremony (Aug. 21 at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls).
But before that, she’ll play Meridian Centre Jan. 20 for a special ‘200-Day Out’ pre-Games concert, marking the biggest venue she’s played since launching her career on, well, “The Launch.”
POESY — real name: Sarah Botelho — says her parents loved Niagara and decided to settle in an area bordering Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines, but moved to Hamilton last year to be closer to her grandparents.
She recalls scenic runs along the canal while visiting. The scenery helped inspire some of “Steel Heart,” which has the imposing task of being the official theme song of an event years in the planning for Niagara.
“I was daunted by it at first because I’ve never been asked to write a song for something,” she says. “It was really important for me to get it right because it was for the country and for all these athletes to feel inspired by.
“I’ve never been athletic — I’m good at a lot of things but I’m not good at sports — so I was like, ‘How do I connect with this?’ (But) being an athlete is a lot like being a musician. There’s no one path you can take to get there. You can’t just go get a degree and become a professional athlete. There’s a lot of rejection, a lot of twists and turns.”
The theme of pushing yourself forward is apt for the Canada Games, which were supposed to happen this year but were pushed back by the pandemic. To make it even more Niagara-centric, the video for “Steel Heart” features six local athletes, filmed in areas throughout the region.
“I listened to a lot of other songs written for similar things, like ‘Believe’ for the Olympics,” she says. “I talked to the people in my life who were a little more sporty than me and they were like, ‘Oh, I would listen to this while I got ready to go out on the ice.’”
“Steel Heart” premiered Nov. 5 and was performed live for the first time at The Horseshoe club in Toronto Saturday. It was also POESY’s first live show in nearly two years.
“I actually got really nervous right before and I’m not someone who gets nervous,” she says. “As soon as I finished the first song, I said out loud, ‘Wow! I forgot how much I love this.’”
She had less nerves for her debut, performing in front of judges (including Niagara-born Stephan Moccio) for the TV show “The Launch” in 2018. She was actually in the first episode filmed, performing a version of Radiohead’s “Creep.”
“I really didn’t know anything going into it, so I couldn’t prep,” she says. “When I was going there, I remember thinking, ‘I’m just going to get punked. There’s no way this is real.’
“It was definitely a very humbling experience and what got me in the door and introduced me to a lot of people in the industry.”
Her busy three years since includes recording a debut album with producer Stephen Lipson, who recently worked with Billie Eilish for the theme song to the new James Bond movie, “No Time to Die.”
But while she got plenty of recording in, she craved the stage. Finally, that itch is getting scratched — the Jan. 20 date at Meridian Centre will be her biggest show to date.
“It was really hard for me when everything was getting cancelled,” she says. “I’m also a pretty social person, so on a personal level it was also hard and on a professional level, not getting to do the thing you love and having to perform on Zoom was definitely not ideal.
“I felt like I was a butterfly inside of a cocoon, brewing and waiting for everything to be over so I could put all this stuff out.”