"I wanted to cry," Stevens told the Canadian Press in a new interview.
As she explained, the student and her music teacher first found out about the McCartney shoutout via comments on YouTube. And as you'd expect, they didn't believe it was true until they actually saw the video.
Stevens explains she was introduced to the Beatles by her father, whom she described as a "superfan."
"I grew up on that stuff," she said. "He used to play the Beatles all the time when I was a kid."
As previously reported, McCartney was performing in Lexington, KY, on Saturday night (June 1), when he praised Stevens, telling the audience to — and effectively the entire world — to check out her Mi'kmaq rendition of "Blackbird."
"There's an incredible version a Canadian girl's done… see it on YouTube," he said onstage, before performing his original song. "It's in her native language… it's really cool, check it out."
Stevens' version was recorded with her music teacher Carter Chiasson and her classmates at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, NS. It came in attempts to highlight the United Nations' International Year of Indigenous Languages, which seeks to raise awareness of threats to Indigenous languages across the world.
#EmmaStevens gets a shout out by @PaulMcCartney "There's an incredible version done by a Canadian girl, see it on youtube, its in her native language." See her play at the opening of the @unhabitat @UN #UNHabitatAssembly - https://t.co/CqMSgF1VuE #paulmccartney #blackbird pic.twitter.com/WsuQaaczp3— UN-Habitat Youth (@unhabitatyouth) June 2, 2019
As to why "Blackbird" was chosen, Chiasson explained it was due to not only the melody, but also what he called the song's "hidden social message."
"Paul actually wrote it in response to racism he witnessed towards black women when he was younger, so there are some parallels with that and what First Nations people, especially young female First Nations people, are experiencing in Canada today," Chiasson said.
Stevens said all the online attention has been a bit overwhelming, but she is excited to share her native language and hopes to inspire other young Indigenous youth to connect with it.
"There are some kids who speak it in our community, but not a lot," she said. "They're starting to speak English more because none of their friends understand it, and I kind of want to change that."
Stevens explained she would like to record a full album and is currently working on an original song about Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women. She hopes to release the record in July.
Besides that, though, she's put out a call to McCartney, asking him to do a duet of "Blackbird" with her when he plays Vancouver on July 6.
"Yeah, hit me up!" she said.