various artists,
We Will Remain:
Patriotic Songs of Newfoundland

(SingSong, 1998)

More than a collection of music, We Will Remain is a slice of Newfoundland's troubled history. Specifically, this set of 20 songs and archived sound bites focuses on the former island nation's confederation with Canada -- and takes a pretty dim view of the decision.

The music takes a fairly barebones approach; there are no elaborate arrangements or large orchestrations here. The album begins with a very reverent "Ode to Newfoundland," featuring lovely vocal harmonies by Jane Moran and Michelle Smith. Fergus O'Byrne offers a recitation on the wonders of a natural Newfoundland on "And We Were Sailors." "The Anti-Confederate Song of 1869" by Arthur O'Brien celebrates the nation's birthright.

Jean Hewson's "Don't Vote Confederation" urges a mother to support independence, while Jason Whelan's "'49" makes much of the fact that the controversial vote took place on April Fool's Day -- and no one got the joke. Chris Andrews goes a step further to promote revolution in "Republican Song," sung to the tune of Ireland's angry IRA anthem, "Come Out, Ye Black & Tans." "Newfoundland Forever" by Dawn Trainor is about national pride, and Cory Tetford's "The Final Breath" takes a more modern approach. The 20-track CD ends with "We Will Remain" by Shane Mahoney, a poetic celebration of the Newfoundland spirit, a stirring commemoration of the island's identity.

As executive producer Steve Delaney writes in the liner, "I wanted to own an album that brought together the music and song that proclaimed the nation of Newfoundland. I wanted to play this album and feel my heart beat a little prouder in my chest, anger race through my blood, sorrow for what has been lost, and hope for what might yet be regained."

He continues, "Given the context of today's Canada, some may view this work as expressing a separatist viewpoint. Others may dismiss the notion of the nation of Newfoundland as fool-hardy, romantic nostalgia. ... I offer no apologies for the sentiments and opinions recorded here."

Whatever your views on Newfoundland's independence, We Will Remain is a wonderful snapshot of the debate and the music it generated. However, be warned -- this is not an album assembled by or intended for proud Canadians.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 10 April 2004