One sweet song

Neil Diamond included a photo of former LCCVI guidance councilor Al Shaw in a promotion for the Global Sweet Caroline singalong

Former LCCVI guidance councilor picked for Global Sweet Caroline singalong

Heather Wright/The Independent

LCCVI students and alumni know Al Shaw loves to belt out the Neil Diamond classic Sweet Caroline.

The now retired head of the guidance department famously would start the song everyone can sing along to during school sports and rallies. He even broke into song on the public address system one morning during announcements. Now students – and about 76,500 of the Diamond’s closest friends – can hear Shaw singing it in a massive sing along.

Diamond asked his fans to submit videos of them singing Sweet Caroline so he could create a global version of the song which has been sung for years by crowds at all kinds of sporting events.

Shaw – who had been taking singing lessons for his own pleasure – heard about it through a friend and decided he would submit a video.

He worked with his singing coach, recorded the video and sent it off in the mail, expecting to see if he made the cut when the video was released Dec. 21.

It took until Dec. 23 for the video to make its debut. Shaw and his son were in the car when they found the link. They pressed play and there Shaw was, among a group of four singers, crooning together “I’ve been inclined,” before more singers join the chorus.

“You just started yelling ‘I made it’” says Shaw’s young son.

“It was just so exciting,” Shaw says.

“I thought it was a long shot to get in when you’re an amateur. 

“You’re just hoping that they think you’re good enough to make it,” Shaw told The Independent.

Shaw isn’t sure how many people submitted videos, but the opening of the video has hundreds of pictures.

The song received a lot of media attention and Shaw ended up on one of Neil Diamond’s Instagram posts promoting the video.

Diamond, in words at the front of the video, says the global singalong was meant to boost spirits.

“2020 has been a tough year for everyone, so we wanted to bring people together the best way we knew how: Through music. To inspire people to come together, we challenged fans all around the world to sing along to ‘Sweet Caroline.”.

As excited as Shaw was to join the video chorus, it didn’t top his favourite moment singing Sweet Caroline. That was more personal and poignant.

Shaw worked with LCCVI’s music department to sing Sweet Caroline at the 2019 graduation. He tears up thinking about it.

The graduating class had been through a lot that year with the death of three classmates. Shaw says it was very special to bring a moment of joy to the celebration and to have all the students and parents join in the moment.

“I just remembered how much joy that song seemed to bring to them. And because they were all with me, they were right there with me,” he says.

“And that’s a bit emotional, because it was a hard couple last years. 

“But the care that everybody had, like the students, and the staff and the parents, you know, the families, they really cared for one another. …We did it with things like that, that brought everybody together.”