This is the heart and soul of labour music, from Joe Hill, to Woody Guthrie to Billy Bragg.
These are all-new recordings. They are exciting and fresh, and feature great vocal performances and wonderful musicianship by a range of Toronto-area artists. When union members get together at a party, bar or union school they can use this CD to learn and sing the songs that helped build the union movement we are part of today.
The styles range from Jackie Richardson’s amazingly powerful, moving jazz interpretation of Strange Fruit to Marnie Niemi and a swinging bluegrass combo on Which Side Are You On? Kathryn Rose’s voice on Bread and Roses is soaring and beautiful. Robert Priest’s Put It on the Ground will have you laughing, Coco ‘Cognac’ Brown nails Joe Hill, and The Ballad of Springhill by Mike Danckert is haunting.
Unionists involved include Mike Hersh of the United Steelworkers, who wrote and sings Ruby and the Painted Pants; and Anne Healy of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), who sings Union Maid with Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher. Marnie Niemi is an representative of the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU)
The CD features two versions of each song. The first version includes vocals and can be played and listened to like any other audio CD. The second version has instrumentals and back-up vocals only, and includes lyrics that will display on a karaoke player TV screen. As far as we know these are the first karaoke versions of union songs released anywhere.
The CD comes with a 16 page pamphlet that includes all the lyrics, and also a short essay on the history and context of each song, illustrated with photographs. The CD and pamphlet together will provide an exciting way to introduce union history to a new generation.
1. The Ballad of Springhill – Mike Danckert
2. Ruby and the Painted Pants – Mike Hersh
3. Joe Hill - Coco ‘Cognac’ Brown
4. Union Maid – Paula Fletcher & Anne Healy
5. Put it on the Ground – Robert Priest
6. Bread and Roses – Kathryn Rose
7. Which Side Are You On? – Marnie Niemi
8. Strange Fruit – Jackie Richardson
9. There is Power in a Union – Bryant Didier
10. Solidarity Forever - Ensemble