In tune with tragedy

The Central Voice - - Front Page - Carolyn R. Par­sons

Mu­sic can ex­press what we can’t al­ways say

Just a few weeks ago I watched a young per­former sing an amaz­ing ren­di­tion of a mu­si­cal the­ater song with such feel­ing I found my­self with tears stream­ing down my cheeks when it ended.

Bette Mi­dler just has to sing one note and I’m a bas­ket case of emo­tion. Per­haps not ev­ery­one is as eas­ily moved by beau­ti­ful mu­sic as I am but I bet most of you have cried in front of a mov­ing scene in a movie or laughed out loud at a well-timed joke in a novel.

It is the abil­ity to evoke an emo­tional re­sponse that makes art such a valu­able part of the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. Art gives voice to feel­ings that we some­times don’t have the words for. It can rep­re­sent the good and the bad of life and aid us in pro­cess­ing the emo­tion around both.

The De­rina Har­vey Band is a five-piece Celtic rock group com­prised of east coast mu­si­cians liv­ing in Ed­mon­ton. It formed when front-woman De­rina Har­vey, a soloist, was told “too bad, we only hire bands,” af­ter in­quir­ing about a po­ten­tial gig. Not one to give up, she called up some friends, all grad­u­ates from the Mu­sic, Per­for­mance, Busi­ness and Tech­nol­ogy pro­gram at Col­lege of the North At­lantic in Stephenville, and asked them to join her. More re­cently, their fiddler, Jess Be­nis from New Brunswick, joined Scott Greene, Ed Smith, Steve Pin­sent and Har­vey to form the band as it cur­rently ex­ists.

With two al­bums un­der their belt, they’ve just re­leased their new­est sin­gle as a pre­cur­sor to a fu­ture record, and to their ab­so­lute amaze­ment it has gar­nered over 100,000 views on Face­book and half as many on Youtube.

“The Fallen Man’s Daugh­ter” is a poignant story song that is a me­mo­rial to Smith’s un­cle and oth­ers who were lost at sea when the fish­ing boat, The Pa­trick and El­iz­a­beth, was lost in 1994. But rather than fo­cus specif­i­cally on that one tragedy, they wrote a song for all who are taken at sea and those left be­hind. It’s also a trib­ute to those men who often were forced to take other em­ploy­ment, all for their fam­ily. In fact, the video shows a story line of a fish­er­man who be­comes a miner then re­turns to the sea.

Har­vey de­scribes the song as a trib­ute to “sac­ri­fice, courage and strength,” traits found both in the fish­ers who ply their trade on the sea and those who are left be­hind when tragedy strikes.

She says she has been very taken aback by the re­sponse and said, “I was not pre­pared for peo­ple who have en­dured, reach­ing out to me.”

Both pri­vately and pub­licly peo­ple have shared their sto­ries of loss. She ex­plains that she is grate­ful and hon­oured that peo­ple are shar­ing their per­sonal fam­ily truths with her and calls it “quite hum­bling.”

One line in the song, “Damned Oc­to­ber winds call to young men and keep them,” was par­tic­u­larly poignant to me be­cause I spoke to Har­vey shortly af­ter read­ing about a man drowned in Conche on Oct. 26.

Per­haps Dr. Brene Brown said it best when she said, “When we hear some­one else sing about the jagged edges of heartache or the un­speak­able na­ture of grief, we im­me­di­ately know we’re not the only ones in pain.”

It is not sur­pris­ing that this song res­onates with lis­ten­ers in New­found­land and Labrador, a prov­ince that sees more than its fair share of tragedy at the hands of the sea. Or that they feel con­nected to a song, that al­lows them to feel un­der­stood and heard in their ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing left be­hind af­ter such heart­break­ing tragedy.

Lis­ten to “The Fallen Man’s Daugh­ter” at https://www.de­ri­na­har­vey.com/

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