ANTIGONISH: “She Sings as She Flies – Revisiting the Helen Creighton Song Collection” is the most recent project by performance duo, Patchwork.
“It’s like a revisiting of folk traditions and what we can do with them in a modern context,” said Mary Jane Lamond, who started Patchwork with her cousin, Laurel MacDonald.
The duo held its debut performance in July of 2016. The project has taken inspiration from the work of folklorist Helen Creighton, who collected songs and storytelling traditions throughout the Maritime Provinces during the mid-20th century.
Both Lamond and MacDonald had established their own careers in music prior to starting Patchwork. Lamond is well known for her involvement with Nova Scotia’s Gaelic language and song traditions, and has recorded and performed with some of Cape Breton’s most celebrated musicians. Her cousin, Laurel MacDonald, is also a singer, as well as a composer and video artist. The project has allowed the two women to combine their talents while exploring the Nova Scotian folk song tradition that they both love.
“We grew up singing together, and we wanted to find a project that would bring us back so we could be singing together again,” said Lamond.
Much like a patchwork quilt, their performances weave together a variety of elements to create a colourful and unique experience. They combine live vocals with projected visuals and electronic elements, such as vocal looping and the inclusion of archival recordings. The visuals include pictures and animations inspired by themes from the folk songs they perform, such as bird and textile imagery.
“It creates another level of storytelling,” said Lamond.
“She Sings as She Flies,” is a continuation of the creative vision that inspired Patchwork. For the upcoming series of performances, Lamond and MacDonald will be joined by four other singers in the Nova Scotia folk song tradition: Naomi Dawn Poulette of Waycobah, Nicole LeBlanc of Chéticamp, and Kirsten Olivia of East Preston.
“We’ve extended the project to include the other cultures that Helen Creighton collected from. We were just doing English and Gaelic traditions, and now we’ve included a Mi’kmaq singer, an Acadian singer, and an African Nova Scotian singer as well,” said Lamond.
Lamond and MacDonald received support for the project through the Nova Scotia 150 Forward Fund, and the five women came together for the first time in August. Lamond said the project has allowed her to explore the experiences of other Nova Scotians from a new perspective.
“As you bring these cultures together, it’s really impossible to ignore the hardships that have been imposed on some of them, in particular, the Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian Communities, and it’s been interesting to see Helen Creighton’s work because she’s very much a product of her time,” said Lamond, who has enjoyed learning from the other performers as the project takes shape.
“I think it’s very special to bring five women from different cultures together to celebrate singing.”
On October 27, “She Sings as She Flies” will come to Immaculata Hall at StFX University. For a full list of performance dates, videos, and additional information, visit: www.patchworkmusic.ca.