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The Christmas Wish: Newfoundland Yuletide Favourites
Press Release - October 1999

The Christmas Wish was really six years in the making. When broadcaster Tony Hann hosted his first Christmas season of Homebrew on a St. John's radio station, he noticed there was a lack of Newfoundland Christmas songs. He began inquiring with some local traditional acts about recording an album of songs that reflected a Newfoundland Christmas. The response was very positive but the project soon fell by the wayside.

Late in 1998 Tony proposed the project to Lyle Drake and Robert Buck of Avalon Music Ltd., who liked the idea and were willing to take the bull by the horns and help Tony make the project a reality.

On a hot August day in 1999 the first of the bands went into Don Walsh's Dadyeen Studios to belt out a Christmas tune. Outside, it was a hot sunny Newfoundland day, but inside the studio it was Christmas!

In our efforts to keep the entire recording true to a Newfoundland Christmas we endeavored to seek out a Newfoundland artist who's work would tell the story we were looking to tell. We found Richard Steele whose excitement about being part of the project was as overwhelming as his original artwork. Richard graciously gave us two wonderful Christmas prints to use on the project. (Cover: Yuletide Interlude 1997 ?Inset: I Still Believe, 1996)

Born in St. John's, Richard Steele grew up in the older section of the city. A teacher, he taught for 27 years and most recently has been teaching art education at Brother Rice High School in St. John's.

Now pursuing a career as a professional artist, most of Richard's subject matter deals with his heritage in old St. John's. Many examples of his images include sliding in Martin's Meadow, mummering and reminiscences of Christmases gone by. Today, Richard's work is a much sought-after commodity, and his originals as well as his reproductions, are owned nationally and internationally.

Richard G. Steele, 49 Halley Drive, St. John's, NF A1A 4T9, Tel: (709) 754-6741 www.richardsteele.com

The Christmas Wish is a project that is bound to create a legacy and become as much a part of a Newfoundland Christmas as Purity Syrup and the squeals of excited children.

About The Songs

Great Big Sea: Seven Joys Of Mary

Great Big Sea are four time ECMA "Entertainers Of The Year" and Juno Nominees along with The Chieftains for "Video Of The Year". "Seven Joys Of Mary" is a traditional tune that originally appeared just after the release of Up in 1995 on an album called East Coast Christmas. Great Big Sea's "Seven Joys of Mary" is now available exclusively on The Christmas Wish.

The Irish Descendants: Heading Home for Christmas

A first for the boys! Con O'Brien shows off his writing talents on the first Christmas song ever written or recorded by Juno Award winners, The Irish Descendants. There's no better comfort to a Newfoundlander than knowing he will be spending Christmas time at home, and Con captures that feeling beautifully in this song. It's true what they say, "You'll know a Newfoundlander in heaven because he's the one that wants to go home."

The Ennis Sisters: Mary's Lullaby

The Ennis Sisters have dipped into the songbook of legendary Newfoundland songwriter Wince Coles for "Mary's Lullaby". Led by the powerful vocals of Maureen, and the harmony vocals of Teresa and Karen, they produce an absolutely beautiful interpretation that's bound to become a Newfoundland Christmas classic.

The Celtic Connection: Children's Winter

The Celtic Connection, one of the hardest working bands on the east coast, revisit the Ryan's Fancy classic "Children's Winter". The skillful songwriting of Dermot O'Reilly shines through in this song, that's sure to put visions of snowmen and gently falling snow in your head.

John Phillips: This Christmas Count on Me

John Phillips is another artist who is coming into his own as a songwriter. His debut album Avondale Road enjoyed great play on Newfoundland country music radio. This is an original song from John, that the "Syncrude Boys" and everyone who lives away from their beloved "Rock" will love. You can always count on Newfoundlanders no matter where they are, or what they're doing, to be home come Christmas time.

The Fables: Silent Night

The Fables, consisting of stalwart musicians: Glen Simmons (The Wonderful Grand Band), D'Arcy Broderick (The Irish Descendants) and multi-talented musicians Billy Sutton, Dave Fitzpatrick and Clyde Wiseman perform a beautiful a cappella rendition of "Silent Night". Close your eyes, pour a glass of eggnog and imagine The Fables caroling at your door. It'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Wince Coles: Let There Be Room

Wince Coles is perhaps one of the best songwriters in Newfoundland and Labrador. He's created such classics as "Poppy" and "Only A Rock" and now he's written another gem that's destined to become a Newfoundland Christmas classic. With help from Paul Kinsman, Don Walsh, Boomer Stamp and Byron Pardy, Wince delivers an emotionally powerful tune reminding us to keep Christ in Christmas.

The Ennis Sisters: Ennis Road

Ennis Road, originally appearing on 1998's Christmas On Ennis Road, showcases the songwriting talents of Maureen Ennis. This bouncy little number will have you wishing for a horse and sleigh bells in no time. This song is already a staple on Christmas playlists in Newfoundland.

Shanneyganock: What Child Is This

You've never heard this great old English tune sung quite like this before. An uplifting waltz tempo breathes new life into this well loved tune. Featuring Chris Andrews' powerful voice and the solid talents of Mark Hiscock, Bob Hiscock , Brian Kenny, and special guest Cory Tetford. It's no wonder they're one of the most popular live bands on the Island.

Tickle Harbour: The Piper In The Meadow / Dong Dong Merrily on High

Some of the finest traditional musicians in Newfoundland have passed through the ranks of Tickle Harbour at one time or another. Producer Don Walsh and the rest of the very talented line up of Tickle Harbour deliver a great set of tunes that would rival The Chieftains.

Pamela Morgan: The Cherry Tree Carol

A founding member of the legendary Figgy Duff, Pamela is a true veteran and still a shining star on the Newfoundland music scene. Her beautiful vocal style rejuvenates this timeless Christmas folk song. This song originally appeared on Amber Christmas, and it's already a favorite from this talented songbird.

The Walsh Family: What Christmas Means To Me

Greg Walsh, the youngest son of accomplished accordion player Ray Walsh, put his pen to paper and dug deep into memories, rooted in the Christmas traditions of tiny Bay de Verde. Joined by his dad Ray on accordion, and sister Michelle Carew on back up vocals, Greg delivers a tune that defines what Christmas is all about: family, friends, and having fun.

Ray Lake: Christmas Memories

Ray is a very talented performer and songwriter from St. Lawrence on the Burin Peninsula. "Christmas Memories" shows the talent Ray has for capturing a moment in song. The confusion of buying that last minute gift, the Christmas tree and cuddling with your sweetheart are all represented here. With the help of great musicians like Dave Fitzpatrick (The Fables), and Glenn Hiscock (Connemara), Ray Lake has crafted a wonderful original Yuletide tune.

The Celtic Connection: I Saw Three Ships

The Celtic Connection take you on a romp through "I Saw Three Ships". You can hear the enthusiasm in Scott Graham's voice as he bounces along to this old English tune. Accompanied only by the bodhran this version of the classic, "I Saw Three Ships" will surely have you singing along every time you hear it.