‘Never give up and never lose hope,’ says 95-year-old Regina songwriter after recording first single

A Regina woman is proving you are never too old to achieve a dream. 

Vera Coupal, 95, has served in the navy, been a model, and travelled around Canada with her husband in their own aircraft, but she never pursued her dream to record her own music.

She started playing piano and writing songs when she was a young girl. Coupal said her mother never made her help wash the dishes because she preferred to listen to Coupal’s music.  

The aspiring songwriter has penned 57 songs and always dreamed of going to Toronto find a producer to help her record her favourite song creation, The Canadian Way, but life took her in other directions.

Now, Coupal lives at the Riverbend Crossing Memory Care Community, a care home focused on residents diagnosed with dementia, where she’s lived for almost two years. She often sits at the piano and plays her songs, particularly The Canadian Way.

Hicks set up microphones to record Coupal’s song in her care home. (Submitted by Martha Ziffle)

“I came up with, ‘From the Arctic to the border, from Victoria to Halifax, we sing and cheer for this wonderful country that is our home. The Maple Leaf and red and white, it’s the emblem of what is right,'” she said.

“This great land, the Canadian way.”

Coupal said she didn’t expect the song to go anywhere, much less get radio play. But Martha Ziffle had a different idea. 

Ziffle is the memory care co-ordinator for the private care home. She wanted to continue with Coupal’s music because music can be good after a dementia diagnosis, she said. 

“We do a lot with music here because it just brings back the emotions — it brings back the nostalgia,” Ziffle said. “And it’s just more and more exercise for your brain. So that’s something that’s very important to us.”

She reached out a few months ago to Ryan Hicks, a Regina musician and producer. Hicks said he was “speechless” when he heard Coupal’s song for the first time. 

“This song is beautiful,” he said. “The lyrics are perfect. The melody is really memorable and sweet. And when she played me her song, she played the piano really, really well, and sang really, really well. And I loved it.”

So in late January, Hicks set up a few microphones and recorded Coupal at the piano so she could share the song widely.

The song made its debut on CBC Saskatchewan’s radio morning show, The Morning Edition, on Thursday.

You’re never too old to learn something new or achieve a dream. We meet a Regina woman, Vera Coupal, who took up songwriting in her 90s. We’ll hear more from her on how that happened, as well as the song she wrote. 6:24

Hearing the song on the radio, Ziffle said, “was very emotional, because I could see the pride on various faces, and certainly the emotion in her eyes, and just to have a small part of that was incredibly rewarding.”

“It’s kind of unreal,” Coupal said. “I certainly am thrilled and happy that this happened while I’m still alive.”

‘It’s kind of unreal’ to have her song recorded, says Coupal. (Submitted by Martha Ziffle)

Coupal ‘s advice for anyone else hoping to achieve their dreams is simply to keep going. 

“Never give up and never lose hope,” she said. “Keep trying and believe in what you’re doing, and be proud of what you are doing and do your best.”

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