Category Archives: 2019

Evemarie Brunelle and the Joy of Voices Rising Together

Dynamic… magnificent… joyful” are some of the superlatives used to describe the experience of singing together in harmony led by Evemarie Brunelle. After a knock-out, sold-out event last fall that left Ottawa participants clamouring for more, the Montreal-based singer, choir leader, and performer will return on October 27th with BIG SING OTTAWA!

Evemarie comes from a musical family. At age seven, she began singing beside her mother in a church choir conducted by her father. After graduating from the Community Choir Leadership Training in 2009, she founded the Allez Chante! non-auditioned choirs in Montreal. Today, over 200 people attend and sing with Evemarie each week.

A fun, energetic, sing-along harmony event, BIG SING OTTAWA! is jointly sponsored by Gil’s Hootenanny and the Spirit of Rasputin’s. For Tamara Levine, the Producer of Gil’s Hootenanny, “Evemarie is so much more than a song leader. Within minutes of gathering, for those lucky enough to join her – young and old, with or without singing experience – Evemarie has every voice in the circle unselfconsciously rising to join her in spirited songs from around the world. We leave her with songs in our hearts and hope for the world.”

Designed for all ages and voices and requiring no experience, BIG SING OTTAWA! will take place on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the Westboro Masonic Hall, 430 Churchill Ave. N, 3:30-5:30 pm.

Tickets for The Big Sing are $20 and are available online at rasputins.org and at Octopus Books, 118 Third Avenue.

Feature Article in “Our Times” Magazine

The Power of Song

Gil’s Hootenanny

By Kathy Kennedy   April 10, 2019

PHOTOGRAPH: JAKE MORRISON, WITH FLARE PHOTOGRAPHY

The finale at Gil’s Hootenanny is always the highlight of a joyous evening. On May 1, 2018, the rafters of Ottawa’s Clark Hall rang with the sounds of over 300 voices singing “We Shall Not Be Moved,” the African-American spiritual turned labour anthem. The hootenanny brings people together to sing songs of protest and hope, belting out their belief in the power of collective singing for change. Buzzing with optimism, the audience left for home that night singing and carrying a message of inspiration to the streets and neighbourhoods of the city.

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BIG SING OTTAWA!


with EVEMARIE BRUNELLE
Sunday, October 27 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Westboro Masonic Hall, 430 Churchill Ave. N.
$20 online by PayPal or credit card

(via Spirit of Rasputins Arts Society PayPal account)
or at Octopus Books, 118 Third Ave.
Spaces are limited.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Sing together in harmony to experience a powerful source of energy, connection and joy! We will learn simple songs from around the world in unison and in harmony.

All ages welcome. No experience necessary. All voices welcome!

Led by Evemarie Brunelle, graduate of the Community Choir Leadership training. Founder of Allez Chante! in Montréal, non-auditioned choirs, since 2009.

Evemarie is known for her dynamic song leading, the quality of her presence, clarity of her instruction and her magnificent voice.
allezchante.ca


An Outstanding 10th Anniversary Gil’s Hootenanny

A capacity audience sang from start to finish at arguably the best organized and best attended 10th Anniversary Gil’s Hootenanny held May 1st, 2019 at the RA Centre. As people arrived, the Hootenanny Choir (a.k.a. Just Voices Activist Choir) was singing in the foyer. This set the stage for participation in a wide variety of “songs of protest, songs of hope”. While some of the songs were new, most were quite old and had survived many iterations through the “folk process” over decades or even hundreds of years. This review will include some of that musicology. The organizers of Gil’s Hootenanny deserve praise for the breadth and depth of song selection at this anniversary event.

In the hall, while they were finding their seats, a video of past Hoots played on the big screen over the stage with concert clips and interviews of past participants. The choir and video were both very welcoming touches.

Parade of performers

The real Hootenanny began with a parade of performers marching down both aisles to the stage singing Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, a civil rights song adapted from a spiritual first recorded by the Dixie Jubilee Singers in 1924. Resurrected by the Reverend Ralph Abernathy during the summer of 1962 when mass arrests and demonstrations erupted for the second time, he taught it one night to a mass meeting at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

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“The Marias” To Headline Gil’s Hootenanny’s 10th Anniversary Line-up

Maria Dunn and Maria Hawkins will be the 2019 headliners for the 10th Annual Gil’s Hootenanny, Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm at the RA Centre (Clark Hall), 2451 Riverside Drive. Affectionately dubbed “the Marias” by Hootenanny organizers, Dunn and Hawkins will share the stage, alternating songs in a musical conversation that will be intimate & fun with the added element of audience participation – a tradition for this annual sing-along event.

Poster design by Kate Morgan

Inspired by the legacy of Gil Levine (1924-2009), the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Gil’s Hootenannywas first presented in 2010. Gil and his wife Helen, who died in October 2018, hosted hootenannies at their home for decades.

Passionate about preserving the spirit of folk music, twice Juno-nominated Maria Dunnis often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her melodic, unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. Her stint as a volunteer DJ in community radio encouraged Dunn to listen widely to master songwriters, singers and instrumentalists of folk and roots music. Becoming an avid fan of live music, Dunn began writing her own music in the mid-90s, drawing deeply on the folk tradition of storytelling through song to honour the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people, past and present.

Ottawa’s Blues Lady Maria Hawkins is a much-beloved performer in Ottawa, and is well known as the co-creator of “Blues in the Schools”, which garnered the W.C. Handy Blues Award. Hawkins has also earned a United Way Community Builder Award for her work with local charities, the NAC Award for Artistic Excellence, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for 25 years of inspiration to Canadian youth. Hawkins’ music is influenced by a deep respect for indigenous peoples and passion for peace and justice, and is informed by many facets of her background, including her black, Mi’kmaq and Acadian ancestry.

Pete Seeger was among Gil and Helen’s favourite troubadours. As 2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of his birth, the Hootenanny will celebrate Pete with a special presentation of his legacy by Steve Richer, folk singer and banjo-playing Professor Emeritus at Carleton University. The Hootenanny Band will open the evening with a selection of new and traditional sing-along music. The Band comprises members of the Elizabeth Riley Band – Carmel Whittle, Jen Gilbert & Patricia Reynolds – with Debbie Rubin and Mark Evenchick.

Helen and Gil’s vision of a better world included bringing people together to celebrate, share and sing about the stories, struggles and victories of working women and men. Gil’s Hootenanny continues that legacy.

Tickets ($10, kids free) are now available online and can be purchased (cash only) at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue. For additional information visit Facebook.

The 2019 Hootenanny Band

Creating the Feeling of Togetherness

A beloved element of Gil’s Hootenanny is the entrance march. The performers promenade into the hall singing, playing and encouraging the audience to join in the music. For the Hootenanny Band, leading the entrance march is a natural extension of their identity. Equity, social activism and social justice are central to their song writing and performance style, and they are all singer-songwriters, multi-instrumentalists and vocalists who captivate and inspire audiences with their energy

Three members of the Hootenanny Band are musicians from the Elizabeth Riley Band:

  • Jen Gilbert, acoustic guitar, vocals: Jen grew up in the Ottawa Valley in a music-loving family. While Jen’s original music is heavily influenced by the chord progressions and traditions of old-time country music, she loves and plays all styles of music. Outside of her music-life as a member of the Elizabeth Riley Band, Jen is a mom, an educator, and a songwriter.
  • Patricia Reynolds, electric guitar, vocals: Patricia has been playing and singing since her childhood on Manitoulin Island. Her musical influences range from classic country and bluegrass to rockabilly to traditional and contemporary folk music. She enjoys playing and jamming – with Elizabeth Riley Band, Local Colour, Just Voices choir, and musical friends.
  • Carmel Whittle, stand up snare, percussion, harmonica, guitar, vocals: Carmel is an Irish and Mik’maq visual artist, musician, song writer & activist who hails from Newfoundland. Currently a filmaker, community outreach and Indigenous Liaison at Gallery 101, she is also a community organizer and co-ordinator for the Indigenous Artists’ Coalition ‘No Borders Art Festival’. She loves to experiment with sound and create instruments from found objects to create songs of loss tragedy and love.

Jen, Patricia and Carmel will be joined by musical friends Debbie Rubin and Mark Evenchick for the 2019 Hootenanny Band.

  • Debbie Rubin is a vocalist and banjo player who has been a key Gil’s Hootenanny organizer for many years. She is part of the group Local Colour and also the Ottawa Simcha Band, Sing n’jam and Keep on Singing. A retired teacher from Algonquin College, Debbie is also a visual artist.
  • Mark Evenchick was the winner of the 2016 Hootenanny songwriting contest. His love of music started when he was 13 and learned three chords on his sister’s guitar. Those few chords led Mark on a decades-long musical voyage that includes performing, songwriting & recording.

The 2019 Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on May 1st at 7:30 pm at the RA centre (Clark Hall), 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo. Tickets are available online and can be purchased (cash only) at Octopus Books, 16 Third Avenue. Tickets are $10; kids free.

Maria Hawkins: Blues Lady Returns to Gil’s Hootenanny

Maria Hawkins with Arthur McGregor warming up for the inaugural Gil’s Hootenanny outside the Elmdale Tavern on Sommerset Street.

Ten years after her first performance at 2010’s Gil’s Hootenanny, Maria Hawkins is returning as a headliner for the 10th Anniversary event. Long considered Ottawa’s Blues Lady, Maria has been a well known and much-beloved performer in Ottawa for decades, and is recognized for her dynamic and confident stage presence. Maria Dunn and Maria Hawkins, affectionately dubbed “the Marias” by Hootenanny organizers, are the headliners for this annual May Day sing-along event.

What Maria’s legion of fans might not realize is that her music is informed by the intersection of many facets of her background, including her Mi’kmaq and Acadian roots. Maria can also trace her family back to “released slaves from Sir John Hawkins”. Given her ancestry, it’s no wonder that Maria’s music is informed by a deep respect for indigenous peoples and a passion for peace and justice. Her repertoire at Gil’s Hootenanny will include a song of “thanks to first nations who helped bring slaves to Canada through the underground railway”.

Maria is well known as the co-creator of “Blues in the Schools”, bringing music to classrooms across the nation’s capital. This program garnered Maria the W.C. Handy Award for bringing together 200 students from 28 schools to play in the largest blues band ever, with help from local musicians. According to Maria, “It was some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done”.

Maria with Chris White on stage at the inaugural Gil’s Hootenanny

Less well known is Maria’s work with dozens of local charities, which earned her a United Way Community Builder Award. Maria has won numerous other awards, including the NAC Award for Artistic Excellence. Maria is particularly proud of her Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for 25 years of inspiration to Canadian youth.

Gil’s Hootenanny is delighted that Maria will once again be bringing her voice and her message of hope, gratitude and strength to Gil’s Hootenanny.

The 2019 Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo. Tickets ($10, kids free) are available online and (cash only) at Octopus Books, 16 Third Avenue.