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Harry Martin honoured with Music NL Lifetime Achievement Award

Labrador’s own Harry Martin was presented with Music NL’s Lifetime Achievement Award at it’s annual Music NL Week held in St. John’s earlier this month. Martin, who has been playing and writing music for over three decades, said the award was appreciated and unexpected.
Labrador’s own Harry Martin was presented with Music NL’s Lifetime Achievement Award at it’s annual Music NL Week held in St. John’s earlier this month. Martin, who has been playing and writing music for over three decades, said the award was appreciated and unexpected.

Music NL has honoured a Labrador singer/songwriter with its 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Cartwright’s Harry Martin said the award is very much appreciated but was unexpected.

“I’ve been out of the business for a number of years for health reasons,” he said. “I didn’t have too many contacts with St. John’s. I did a few things around Labrador but nothing of any significance, just short performances.”

Martin had been invited to come to St. John’s during MusicNL Week (Oct. 14-18) to take part in a Songwriters' Circle with Pamela Morgan, Jim Payne, Fergus O'Byrne, Dave Panting, Glenn Simmons, Chris Hennessy and Larry Foley.

“They told me it would only be two or three songs so I thought, that’s not too demanding. And it would also give me an opportunity to say goodbye to some of the friends that I’d known over the past 20 years or so.”

Subsequent to the invitation, Martin said, he was called by MusicNL’s executive director informing him that he would be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“That was a little bit more than I expected,” a humble Martin said.

Much of Martin’s song writing pays tribute to early life in Labrador.

“I became interested in the pioneers of Labrador way back in the days when the late Byron Chaulk wrote some wonderful songs and Gerald Mitchell put music to them,” explained Martin. “That became very interesting to me.”

Martin worked as a Wildlife Conservation Officer for the province’s Wildlife Division in Cartwright for almost three decades.

He used the opportunity when visiting schools to share his songs with the students.

“I’d take along my guitar and sing a few songs and talk about the old fellows and the trapping. And that seemed to catch the interest of a lot of the younger people.”

Martin has been using his voice and his songs for decades to promote Labrador’s heritage and culture.

Through the years he’s performed at Arts and Culture Centres and festivals throughout the province, the country and overseas.

Martin has recorded four albums over the years.

“I did a recording in 1979. That was a vinyl. Vinyl was going out at the time which I wasn’t aware of. Then, when I was performing at the Bannerman Park Festival (in St. John’s) I met the late Dermot O’Reilly and he encouraged me to put out another recording.”

Martin did the recording at O’Reilly’s studio. O’Reilly also included in Martin’s songs in some of his own compilations.

“That introduced me to a wider audience and then I was involved with the Canadian Rangers and they did a couple of documentaries and included a couple of my songs. That helped me reach a whole new audience.”

All of the songs Martin recorded have been his original songs, except one song that he co-wrote with the late A. Frank Willis called “Prisoner of the Wind.”

Support

Martin said there are individuals as well as companies that have helped him with his music endeavours.

“Ward Pike with Air Labrador (then called Labrador Airways). He came forward and said ‘Harry, we support what you are doing with your Labrador songs and anywhere we fly, where you are doing your songs, you have a free seat.’ Air Nova and Provincial Airways also provided seating for me.”

He’s also thankful to Donna Roberts, a member of MusicNL’s board of directors, for her support over the years.

Other companies in Labrador also helped him out by funding the cost of posters and other related costs, he said.

When asked if he has a favourite song, Martin hesitates before replying. It soon becomes obvious that all of his songs are near and dear to his heart.

“That would be like asking me if I have a favourite child,” he said.

One of his most popular songs “This is My Home” has also been recorded by several other musicians.

Martin retired as an Education and Information Officer with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 2013. He now lives in Paradise River, just outside of Cartwright.

He had a great time at MusicNL Week, he said, and was glad some other musicians from the Big Land were at the awards ceremony on Oct. 18.

“It was overwhelming to meet some of the old musicians that I grew up with. Then I had a couple of Labradorians there to help me share it – Selby Mesher and Gary Mitchell —and that made it all that much better for me.”

As well, Martin said, it was great to be back in St. John’s.

“St. John’s has always been very, very good to me and the Newfoundland audiences have been good to me.”

Martin said the award isn’t so much about him as a singer as it is about the ‘old timers’ and keeping their stories alive.

“That’s very important to me.”

He’s pleased to see other artists also keeping people’s stories alive through their song writing.

“Jacinda Beals is doing a great job. And Richard Neville is a great singer and songwriter. They include the Labrador theme in their songs. I feel good about that.”

 

danette@nl.rogers.com

 

Cartwright’s Harry Martin said the award is very much appreciated but was unexpected.

“I’ve been out of the business for a number of years for health reasons,” he said. “I didn’t have too many contacts with St. John’s. I did a few things around Labrador but nothing of any significance, just short performances.”

Martin had been invited to come to St. John’s during MusicNL Week (Oct. 14-18) to take part in a Songwriters' Circle with Pamela Morgan, Jim Payne, Fergus O'Byrne, Dave Panting, Glenn Simmons, Chris Hennessy and Larry Foley.

“They told me it would only be two or three songs so I thought, that’s not too demanding. And it would also give me an opportunity to say goodbye to some of the friends that I’d known over the past 20 years or so.”

Subsequent to the invitation, Martin said, he was called by MusicNL’s executive director informing him that he would be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“That was a little bit more than I expected,” a humble Martin said.

Much of Martin’s song writing pays tribute to early life in Labrador.

“I became interested in the pioneers of Labrador way back in the days when the late Byron Chaulk wrote some wonderful songs and Gerald Mitchell put music to them,” explained Martin. “That became very interesting to me.”

Martin worked as a Wildlife Conservation Officer for the province’s Wildlife Division in Cartwright for almost three decades.

He used the opportunity when visiting schools to share his songs with the students.

“I’d take along my guitar and sing a few songs and talk about the old fellows and the trapping. And that seemed to catch the interest of a lot of the younger people.”

Martin has been using his voice and his songs for decades to promote Labrador’s heritage and culture.

Through the years he’s performed at Arts and Culture Centres and festivals throughout the province, the country and overseas.

Martin has recorded four albums over the years.

“I did a recording in 1979. That was a vinyl. Vinyl was going out at the time which I wasn’t aware of. Then, when I was performing at the Bannerman Park Festival (in St. John’s) I met the late Dermot O’Reilly and he encouraged me to put out another recording.”

Martin did the recording at O’Reilly’s studio. O’Reilly also included in Martin’s songs in some of his own compilations.

“That introduced me to a wider audience and then I was involved with the Canadian Rangers and they did a couple of documentaries and included a couple of my songs. That helped me reach a whole new audience.”

All of the songs Martin recorded have been his original songs, except one song that he co-wrote with the late A. Frank Willis called “Prisoner of the Wind.”

Support

Martin said there are individuals as well as companies that have helped him with his music endeavours.

“Ward Pike with Air Labrador (then called Labrador Airways). He came forward and said ‘Harry, we support what you are doing with your Labrador songs and anywhere we fly, where you are doing your songs, you have a free seat.’ Air Nova and Provincial Airways also provided seating for me.”

He’s also thankful to Donna Roberts, a member of MusicNL’s board of directors, for her support over the years.

Other companies in Labrador also helped him out by funding the cost of posters and other related costs, he said.

When asked if he has a favourite song, Martin hesitates before replying. It soon becomes obvious that all of his songs are near and dear to his heart.

“That would be like asking me if I have a favourite child,” he said.

One of his most popular songs “This is My Home” has also been recorded by several other musicians.

Martin retired as an Education and Information Officer with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 2013. He now lives in Paradise River, just outside of Cartwright.

He had a great time at MusicNL Week, he said, and was glad some other musicians from the Big Land were at the awards ceremony on Oct. 18.

“It was overwhelming to meet some of the old musicians that I grew up with. Then I had a couple of Labradorians there to help me share it – Selby Mesher and Gary Mitchell —and that made it all that much better for me.”

As well, Martin said, it was great to be back in St. John’s.

“St. John’s has always been very, very good to me and the Newfoundland audiences have been good to me.”

Martin said the award isn’t so much about him as a singer as it is about the ‘old timers’ and keeping their stories alive.

“That’s very important to me.”

He’s pleased to see other artists also keeping people’s stories alive through their song writing.

“Jacinda Beals is doing a great job. And Richard Neville is a great singer and songwriter. They include the Labrador theme in their songs. I feel good about that.”

 

danette@nl.rogers.com

 

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