BY SUBMITTED BY HUBERT RADOUX, CO-AUTHOR AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF GROSSE ÎLE : UNE HISTOIRE CHORALE / ACHORAL STORY
PUBLISHED ON: MARCH 9, 2016 – 13:07
In the summertime, my wife (Mary Moseychuck, a proud Cape Bretoner) and I often travel back “home” to Cape Breton. While there, we frolic on Kelly’s Mountain or around the Bras d’Or Lakes and swim and sunbathe at a secluded sandy beach near the Fortress of
After a hard day’s “work” – sightseeing or golfing – we usually find ourselves around a campfire with a beer or two. Cape Bretoners are exquisite hosts, experts on how to party, handy with a guitar and able to sing ballads like no one else. I remember “Out On The Mira,” “Working Man,” and many others. But one song that always made me pensive,
because it reminded me of Grosse Île, was “We Rise Again”* by the poet and songsmith Leon Dubinsky. Mary and I first heard “We Rise Again” wonderfully sung by Kenzie
MacNeil, a Cape Breton songwriter of The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton Island fame. Later, we were floored by renditions of it performed by Raylene of the Rankin Family, Rita MacNeil and The Men of the Deeps, Anne Murray and friends, Chor Leoni (a Vancouver-based men’s choral group), and Nipper MacCloud, Mickey MacIntyre and Michael Moseychuck, all great campfire songsters. Every time I heard that song, my throat would tighten, I’d have a hard time swallowing, my eyes would well up and I would try, to no avail, to fend off the demons of Grosse Île.
Leon Dubinsky’s poignant lyrics are directly related to one of the main themes of the musical drama Grosse Île: Une histoire chorale / A Choral Story, written by Margaret Forrest, her husband, John Halpin, and yours truly, Hubert “Hubie” Radoux.
The theme, simply put, is that our ancestors and their stories live on through their descendants.
Here, with my interpretation, are the lyrics of “We Rise Again”: “When the waves [memories] roll on over the waters and the ocean [the North Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence that separate Erin from Grosse Île] cries [the plaintive sounds from the
“coffin ships”], we [Irish ancestors] look to our sons and daughters to explain [give meaning to] our lives. As if a child [one of the many orphans] could tell us why! That as sure as the sunrise, as sure as the sea, as sure as the wind in the trees, We rise
again, in the faces of our children; we rise again, in the voices of our song [the story of Grosse Île]; we rise again in the waves out on the ocean; and then, we rise again!
“When the light [hope] goes dark [Black ‘47] with the forces of creation, across a stormy sky [despair], we look to reincarnation [for our Christian forefathers this would be “resurrection”] to explain our lives. As if a child could tell us why! That as sure as the sunrise, as sure as the sea, as sure as the wind in the trees, We rise again, in the faces of our children; we rise again, in the voices of our song; we rise again, in the waves out on the ocean; and then, we rise again.”
“Again” and “again” we remember the legacy left to us by our ancestors who worked, suffered, and fought to survive on Grosse Île. It is a legacy of Charity, rooted in Faith, that brings Hope to the hearts of men and women everywhere!
Relive the experience with us through an inspiring presentation of the bilingual musical drama, Grosse Île: Une histoire chorale / A Choral Story taking place at the Palais Montcalm, on Saturday, March 12, at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 13,
at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available online at the Palais Montcalm ticket office or by phone 418 641-6040 or toll free 1 877 641-6040 or at the door, if there are any left by then!! Best to reserve, to be sure of a good seat.
*For those not familiar with the song, visit YouTube WE RISE AGAIN and hear Ann Murray, Rita MacNeil and others sing it.
The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quebec-Chronicle-Telegraph/64677421759)