Maria Dunn’s fifth CD, Piece By Piece, (Nominee – 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards; distributed through Outside Music) was officially released in Canada on September 18, 2012. Recorded at Homestead Recorders (Edmonton, Alberta) and produced by Shannon Johnson (Juno award winner with The McDades for 2007’s Bloom), the 8 songs on Piece By Piece acknowledge and celebrate the resilience and grace of immigrant women working at a Canadian clothing factory over its 93-year history.
Maria: “I originally wrote these songs for the multimedia show GWG: Piece By Piece, a live performance that weaves together video footage of women who worked at Edmonton’s Great Western Garment (GWG) Company with music reflecting their experiences. Many of the woman who worked at the factory were new immigrants or refugees and this was one of their first jobs in Canada. In telling their story, we tell the story of the waves of immigration to the greater Edmonton region, the story of working mothers and the story of globalization.”
Along with videographer Don Bouzek (Ground Zero Productions), her collaborator on the original GWG: Piece By Piece multimedia show, Maria consulted with historian Catherine C. Cole and tagged along as Catherine interviewed women who worked at GWG. Having studied the factory’s early history in graduate school, collected artifacts over several years and worked towards writing a book entitled “GWG: Piece By Piece” (Goose Lane Publishing), Catherine had extensive knowledge of the factory’s work environment that gave her an excellent rapport with the interviewees.
Maria: “A heartfelt thank you to all the women interviewed for this project. Without their openness and willingness to share their stories, I could not have written these songs, nor could we have created the multimedia show.”
Stylistically, Maria’s previous four recordings have melded North American roots music with influences from her Scottish-Irish heritage. With Piece By Piece, Maria weaves in musical inflections and instrumentation that reflect the countries of origin (Italy, India, Vietnam, Ukraine) of the women who inspired the songs.
Locally inspired, the songs are universal in theme—immigration, work, family, hope for a better life–and range from I Cannot Tell You, a poignant description of one refugee’s loneliness in her new country to Speed Up, an exuberant call-and-response work song. Blue Lung hauntingly commemorates a worker who died of lung disease, while Shareholders’ Reel sparkles with the humour and tenacity of a union representative–with a nod to Ukrainian dance music. The recording finishes with Farewell, a sitar, tabla and string-fueled homage to the community and friendship of the women, even as their workplace is closed.
Maria Dunn – vocal, guitar, accordion
Shannon Johnson – violin, backing vocals (http://www.themcdades.com)
Ojas Joshi – tabla, percussion
Michael Lent – upright bass
Sharmila Mathur – sitar (http://www.sharmilamathur.com)
Jeremiah McDade – whistles, bansuri (http://www.themcdades.com)
More information on the GWG: Piece By Piece multimedia show at Projects, GWG: Piece By Piece
Good News in Radio and Print!
09.07.12: Piece By Piece is one of Penguin Eggs Picks for September: www.ckua.org. Thanks Andy and Roddy!
09.01.12: Donald Teplyske‘s review in: http://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/maria-dunn-piece-by-piece-review/
09.14.12: Tim Readman, Penguin Eggs Magazine: “Maria Dunn remains one of the few songwriters in Canada to document the lives of ordinary working people. Piece By Piece, her profoundly moving latest recording, provides a social insight into a historical Alberta garment factory.”
09.19.12: Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal: “There’s a great history of labour songs in folk music, but Dunn’s Piece By Piece takes it to another level. She found what was unique and universal about the experience of the factory workers and took great care to bring out their personalities in her music.” Full article at: Reviews
10.21.12: Piece By Piece is #3 in CKUA Top 5 for October 2012
10.21.12: Mike Regenstreif, Folk Roots / Folk Branches: “…one of this year’s folk music masterpieces”. Read the full review at: http://frfb.blogspot.ca/
01.03.13 “Best of 2012” Radio Lists:
- #15 on CKUA Radio’s Top 100 CDs for 2012
- Top Ten for 2012 – Tom Coxworth, Folk Routes, CKUA Radio
- Top 11 for 2012 – Katherine Duncan, Key of A, CBC Radio One
- #7 on Top 12 for 2012 – Mike Regenstreif, Folk Routes / Folk Branches
- #30 on Top 100 for 2012 – Galaxie Folk-Roots (Canada), Galaxie Folk-Roots (Canada)
- 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award – Nominee (Solo Artist of the Year)
- 2013 Edmonton Music Prize – among 10 Shortlisted Artists