STRAIT AREA: A 20-year-old J.P. Cormier song has been given new life thanks to teachers, musicians, community members, and students from around the region.
“Ancient and Forever: A Cape Breton Schools Quarantune,” was created this fall and winter and is taking the internet by storm. It is now available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WsTp2PUTEo&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3aS7ZgCid2ZURQWAgqE7nOqbl5emVQIT9icECejtVZS7Ka28_gO17cIIg.
Riverview Rural High School teacher Monica MacNeil said all the credit for the Mi’kmaw, French, English, and Gaelic production goes to Allison Bernard Memorial and Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School teacher Carter Chapman.
“He’s definitely the lead of everything,” she said. “He’s done these amazing projects so I think this was his next vision was to bring together a lot of people and a lot of the different-sounding cultures of Cape Breton.”
MacNeil was conscripted to work on English verses, along with some of her students who sang.
In addition to those schools, Tracy MacNeil’s Gaelic students at Bayview Education Centre were involved, as well as Gaelic singers from StFX University, while Gaelic translation was provided by Mac Alasdair Dhùghaill.
Also contributing were well-known recording artists Ashley MacIsaac, Colin Grant, Ron Bourgeois, Steve MacDougall, Lucy MacNeil, and Buddy MacDonald.
Cormier said Chapman called him last summer to ask his permission for use of the song.
“They asked if they could use my song for another multilingual video,” he recalled. “They did a beautiful job; I just saw it myself, for the first time, a couple of days ago. It turned out amazing. I’m very honoured they used my song. It’s interesting to hear my lyrics in all those different languages, incredible.”
Chapman and his students were responsible for launching a Mi’kmaq version of The Beatles’ classic “Blackbird” which took social media by storm two years ago.
In addition to lending use of the song, Cormier played rhythm guitar and sang parts of the song at his own studio, then Chapman weaved his part into the other performers.
The song, “Ancient and Forever,” was part of Cormier’s 1999 album Now the Work is Done.
“I always thought that song would make a great tourism theme song for Cape Breton Island,” he noted. “It’s ironic that it’s being used the way it is because I wrote the song after I went to Eskasoni into a sweat lodge with some of my friends, the elders there. I think I was one of the very first white people that went to that lodge. I had a profound experience in the sweat lodge, then I went home and wrote that song. So it’s interesting that it’s being used now again by the First Nations, it’s really cool. It resurfaced after all these years to be used this way. I’m pretty happy about it.”
Cormier added that the success of the video is due to the talent and hard work that went into it.
“The people (Chapman is) working with are just incredible,” he added. “They’ve kind of already proven that with the first video. It’s me riding on their coat tails, not the other way around.”