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The fairytale story behind Ruth B's 'Lost Boy'

Caroline Szwed

Each year, CBC Music in association with MusiCounts — the charity of the Juno Awards — launches a contest to engage music classes across the country with Canadian music. It’s called the Canadian Music Class Challenge. You can sign up for the 2017 Challenge now.

In December 2014, Ruth B — full name Ruth Berhe — uploaded a video with a few vocals and piano chords to Vine. The six-second clip went viral.

In an interview with CBC Music, the Edmontonian said she “posted it with no intentions."

“A week later, it had 84,000 likes and comments from people saying they wanted to hear more. I knew I always wanted to do music, but just didn’t know how.”

At the time of that Vine release, Ruth B was a 20-year-old student at Edmonton's MacEwan University, studying political science. She told Billboard that, after seeing the reaction her Vine generated, she continued writing the rest of the song.

“I would finish studying, come downstairs, and add a line to the chorus,” she said. “In a week, I had a chorus, so I decided I should turn this into a full song and take it to YouTube.”

It was binge-watching ABC TV's Once Upon a Time that inspired the song that changed her life. Ruth B told Billboard that Peter Pan's character inthe TV show capitivated her, as she headed downstairs to her keyboard after watching an episode. "I was in a Peter Pan headspace,” she remembers. “I sang that first line out of nowhere.”

The TV show led to the lyric that changed her life: “I am a lost boy from Neverland/ usually hanging out with Peter Pan.” One month after posting that Vine, Ruth B gave listeners what they were asking for: the full version of "Lost Boy" on YouTube, which has since accumulated more than two million views.

By July 2015, the Canadian internet sensation signed with Columbia Records.

"I thought it was a prank," Ruth B said in an interview with CBC Edmonton. "There is no way six different major labels [were] trying to reach out to me. But it was actually happening."

Almost three years after its creation, "Lost Boy" is playing a role in this year's Canadian Music Class Challenge. In association with MusiCounts, CBC Music is asking students to channel their inner Ruth B and learn the artist's first hit single to enter the contest. (There are also 16 other songs to choose from — get the full list here.) Find out more about the 2017 Canadian Music Class Challenge here.

More to explore:

Sign up now for the 2017 Canadian Music Class Challenge

Here are the songs for the Canadian Music Class Challenge 2017

First Play Live: Ruth B, Safe Haven

From 6 seconds to signed: Edmonton's Ruth B turns viral hit into a career

Meet Ruth B, one of this year's Searchlight judges