Hit­ting the right notes

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NEWS - TERRY BRIDGE

STRAT­FORD — Loreena McKen­nitt has re­leased her first new sin­gle in more than a decade.

Its roots reach back to one year ago af­ter a Mon­treal-based pro­duc­tion com­pany asked her to per­form at a cer­e­mony com­mem­o­rat­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge in April.

“They had asked me whether I would be open to writ­ing some­thing new, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure, I can try,’ ” McKen­nitt said.

She wrote the piece dur­ing De­cem­ber, but when the two sides re­con­vened in Jan­uary a de­ci­sion had been made to have her per­form Dante’s Prayer from her 1997 al­bum The Book of Se­crets in­stead. The pro­duc­tion com­pany’s of­fi­cials never ac­tu­ally heard the record­ing.

Hav­ing al­ready writ­ten the song, though, the Juno Award-win­ning mu­si­cian de­cided to con­tinue the process and Break­ing of the Sword was re­leased this past Fri­day as a lead up to Re­mem­brance Day.

The song is writ­ten from a mother’s per­spec­tive, mov­ing from a sunny April morn­ing when her son is born to grow­ing up and work­ing in the fields to fight­ing in the war. He is killed in bat­tle.

She wrote the piece be­fore vis­it­ing the Cana­dian Na­tional Vimy Memo­rial, but used the site’s Canada Bereft — a statue of a mother with her head bowed in mourn­ing — as an emo­tional de­par­ture point.

“I thought that would be in­ter­est­ing to imag­ine a mother com­ing to not just that memo­rial, but any memo­rial — any par­ent, really, it doesn’t have to be just a mother — and re­flect on the life of that child,” she said.

McKen­nitt noted lead­ing up to World War One most young men and women were work­ing in ru­ral set­tings along­side their par­ents be­fore be­ing called to bat­tle. The mo­ment they were shut­tled away is a pow­er­ful im­age.

“Of­ten they left on trains and in many cases that was the last the fam­i­lies ever saw of them,” she said. “I wanted to imag­ine what that ex­pe­ri­ence might have been like and what the par­ents might have been feel­ing and think­ing.”

Her goal was to reach the three lev­els of a sol­dier’s fam­ily: im­me­di­ate, mil­i­tary, and com­mu­nity.

To rep­re­sent the lat­ter, she in­vited the Strat­ford Con­cert Choir to sing on the track. They recorded at Knox Pres­by­te­rian Church in Oc­to­ber.

She also recorded with the Cen­tral Band of the Cana­dian Armed Forces in Ot­tawa and at Cather­ine North Stu­dios in Hamil­ton.

The fi­nal pro­duc­tion is her first orig­i­nal sin­gle in 11 years, although she wrote a piece for Dis­ney dur­ing that time pe­riod.

Pro­ceeds from sales — it’s ex­clu­sively avail­able dig­i­tally — will go to the Sup­port Our Troops Fund. The pro­gram pro­vides fi­nan­cial sup­port and as­sis­tance to Cana­dian Armed Forces mem­bers, vet­er­ans and their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

It’s a cause McKen­nitt, an Hon­orary Colonel with the Royal Cana­dian Air Force, fully sup­ports.

“With the air force they move around ev­ery two or three or four years, so there’s the con­stant set­tling and up­root­ing of fam­i­lies, find­ing doc­tors, schools, sell­ing a house, buy­ing a new one, all these types of things,” she said.

“The fam­i­lies, when those peo­ple who are serv­ing go away for let’s say six or nine months there are spe­cial needs some­times, and I think the needs of the fam­i­lies some­times seem to be — I don’t think de­lib­er­ately over­looked, but they’re not first what comes to mind.”

Mean­while, McKen­nitt will be singing O Canada and God Save the Queen Sat­ur­day at the ceno­taph in Strat­ford as part of the lo­cal Re­mem­brance Day ser­vice.

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