Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Woman of Labrador

Canadian poet, singer-songwriter, sailor and islander Andy Vine (http://www.andyvine.com) composed this song in the late 1970s. While music-making in St. John’s, Newfoundland he discovered “Woman of Labrador”, the remarkable autobiography of Elizabeth Goudie. Of Inuit, Indian, French and English roots, Goudie (née Blake) was born in 1902 in Mud Lake, Labrador. At 18 she’d wed a trapper, raising their eight+ children in the brush – her memoirs recounting life and travails and dwellings from a trapper’s “tilt”, and log cabins to a Summer lake-shore fishing house and beyond – all that comes with and from such a pioneering existence in territory that encompassed family homes in Mud Lake, North West River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Inspired by Goudie’s story, Vine distilled things into music – and a song popularized by legendary NL folk-rock group Figgy Duff (Pamela Morgan singing this tune with that band of pioneers in their own field).


The image accompanying the music in this video, of “The Labrador ‘liveyere’ ”, is found in “The Story of Grenfell of the Labrador”, a biography of medical missionary Wilfred T. Grenfell (1865 – 1940) – first published in 1922, and, then, digitally, in 2005 as an ebook by Project Gutenberg’s Jeannie Howse and team.

Sir Grenfell’s biographer explains that liveyeres are those hardy souls who permanently reside in the region (as distinct from folks who come for Summer-fishing or other activities, and don’t stay in Wintertime). As well, for his international audience, the author Dillon Wallace notes: “It will be interesting to turn to a map and see for ourselves the country to which Doctor Grenfell was going. We will find Labrador in the northeastern corner of the North American continent, just as Alaska is in the northwestern corner.”

And so lives and events mingle and tales are passed on – through oral and written histories. Through song.

Of musician Allison Crowe, veteran Canadian playwright, and Artistic Director of Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, Jeff Pitcher (http://www.jeffpitcher.ca), says: "No matter where she is in this world, that voice, that conviction, it crosses all borders. She's one of those rare artists that fits into any culture, any community because she is who she is - an incredible talent."

Woman of Labrador” finds home again on “Newfoundland Vinyl II”, Crowe’s just-released album: http://music.allisoncrowe.com/album/newfoundland-vinyl-ii

As the album title suggests, it's a song collection inspired by, and arising from, Allison Crowe's involvement with the hit stage show, "Newfoundland Vinyl" - presented at Canada's Gros Morne Theatre Festival, and produced by TNL.

The album celebrates this creative bond between Crowe, an internationally-loved touring and recording artist, and Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, a professional theatre company founded on Newfoundland's west coast in 1979.

For these past three Summers TNL's engaged Crowe as Musical Director of "Newfoundland Vinyl" - a perennial favourite at the annual GMTF.

TNL AD Jeff Pitcher's conception of a revival of vinyl era, and more, songs of Newfoundland and Labrador put wind in the sails of Allison Crowe's curatorial mission.

"It's here!" says pioneering music blog Muruch, "Allison Crowe just released Newfoundland Vinyl II and it's the perfect follow-up to her traditional folk masterpiece, Newfoundland Vinyl".

Of her immersions as Musical Director with TNL, and the melodic bounty that's landed, Allison Crowe notes: "There is so much wonderful music - you could piece together multiple anthologies and still only scratch the surface of such an extensive and rich collection. Each of these songs is its own story, of land and sea, of people, and each story in-and-of-itself could be an entire show. I'm truly grateful that you are here to hear the story these songs have to offer." She gives special thanks to "the incredibly talented and versatile" casts and crews of TNL's productions for their inspiration.

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