Even Retriever Records president Amy T. Dog makes no bones about it: the media coverage True North: The Canadian Songbook received over the last couple of weeks was incredible.
The Globe and Mail piece was phenomenal. I’m really excited that news about this project is getting out on a national level and that people are starting to engage in the process.
I’m also really grateful to CBC Radio and the Telegraph-Journal – Vanessa Vander Valk on Shift for the CBC, and Drake Lowthers from New Brunswick’s Telegraph-Journal, respectively – for the hometown support and taking the time to talk with me and spread the True North word.
Speaking with them both reminded me of my family and my home, Florenceville, N.B.
My dad’s family came from Ireland and settled in Florenceville in the 1830s, and my parents felt it was important that we stay there and remain connected to those roots. It’s a beautiful place to grow up – St. John River Valley – and in the village of 800, there was a strong sense of community that I still cherish: the kind of place where people socialize all the time and say, ‘I’m going to drop in and say hello to so-and-so.’
Florenceville was small enough that we used to create our own fun within the community. Events in the village always brought people together. I also remember on weekends - especially Saturday night – going to the local hockey game, where my brother used to play in the men’s hockey league, or we’d go skiing or skating.
I loved my upbringing. It was a small, nurturing environment at home and in the community which helped shape my values. It also nurtured my music and helped me find my musical identity. I had plenty of opportunities to explore my musical ideas. My mother played the organ at our church and I’d either sing in the choir or perform in little recitals at school with her. All of these things in my upbringing helped me find my musical identity.
This sense of home and the memories that it generates is something I hope people will find for themselves once they hear True North: The Canadian Songbook when it’s finally released.
I’ve tried to be very meticulous about representing all of our country in some musical shape or form, either with the songs, the arrangements, the fellow performers and orchestra, hoping that something will trigger personal recollections or reflections for listeners to enjoy; that some of the songs perhaps played an important role in the soundtrack of your own life.
That’s the wonderful thing about music. It’s the ability to connect with it on a personal basis. It heightens our emotions and connects us to others and memories on a much deeper level. And music is healing….
And speaking of the orchestras, our first stop is Edmonton to record with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. We then travel to Halifax to record with Symphony Nova Scotia. I’m especially thrilled that Symphony New Brunswick is in the first wave of orchestras at the end of this week given they are from my home province. Symphony New Brunswick has always been very supportive of what I do professionally. It will be nice to end the week at home with them.
One final word from our president: Amy T. Dog says she would like to bring along her trusted sub-woofer for the sessions, Princess Audrey. Sadly, I am not sure they will be allowed to make this trip.