Lennie Gallant takes his search for Abegweit to Wolfville
A multi-award winning songwriter and this year’s East Coast Music Awards Entertainer of the Year is bringing his tour to Wolfville.
On Sept. 21 Searching For Abegweit: The Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant to the Deep Roots Music Festival will be presented. It takes place at Festival Theatre with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
This critically acclaimed production has not left Prince Edward Island until now. In fact, at the start of the week Gallant was busy in Summerside building a portable 12 X 20 foot screen for the tour.
Gallant presents his folk-rockroots music, along with captivating tales, but requires a multimedia format that enlarges stunning visual works by his artist sibling, Karen Gallant.
The images are constantly in motion behind some of the East Coast’s most talented bilingual musicians. The show also features violin virtuoso, Sean Kemp, the wonderful Acadian singer/instrumentalist, Patricia Richard, his dynamic nephews, Lawrence Gallant on vocals/percussion and Jeremy Gallant on vocals/piano, along with appearances by Mi’kmaw singer, Hubert Francis.
While he’s been staging this production 135 times over four summers, this past season was one of the best.
He finds renewed meaning in a world where so many are displaced and have been displaced.
“It’s timely,” Gallant says. “There’s talk of putting up walls and we have refugees coming from other places.”
This dynamic, energetic production is music and storytelling at its best, but the history of Highland Clearances, Irish religious divisions and the Acadian Expulsion are inherent. Gallant also wanted a homage to the Mi’kmaw people.
When the Mi’kmaw originally named the Island, Abegweit - which loosely translated means ‘cradled on the waves’ - there was a legend that came with it. They say the Great Spirit Glooscap took all the most beautiful colours of the world, mixed them together, and then used them to paint the Island into existence.
In Searching for Abegweit, this legend is brought to life as Karen Gallant has taken all the most beautiful colours of the island and incorporated them into her paintings, which are showcased with Gallant’s songs and stories to add a spectacular new dimension to his works.
But Gallant believes essentially the production is about community, family and history. His family history involves the loss of the French language.
The native of Rustico did not learn to speak French until he was 20 and visited Baie St. Marie. There he discovered a lifestyle “so much like my community” that he made it his mission to find his French roots.
His parents spoke only English – with a French accent and he recalls his grandparents stopped speaking French as young adults.
This renowned Canadian singersongwriter, international touring artist and Order of Canada recipient has recorded 11 albums (nine mostly in English and two in French), which have won him a host of awards and nominations.