Two Folksong Programs a week on Local Radio

Letter from Louise Manny to Lord Beaverbrook (May 5th, 1950) explaining the success of her local radio program on folk music.

Newcastle, New Brunswick, Canada, May 5th, 1950. Dear Lord Beaverbrook: I have meant for some time to write about the Folksongs, and now I suppose my letter will pursue you hither and yon, for we all hope you are on your way to North American and New Brunswick. What I would like to do is to have a sort of recording festival in June (when our singers won’t have colds), get all the people that we can to come in to Newcastle and Chatham, and record all the songs we can. There are many of great interest we haven’t got so far. I am strongly of the opinion that we should record what “traditional songs” we can get. We have some old Scottish, English and Irish ballads of great antiquity, brought here by our early settlers, which are still being sung. These may have been recorded elsewhere but we may find interesting variants. Also the collection of the local folksongs gives us a view of our local folk-culture, a background to our Miramichi life and thinking. I don’t wish to record songs people have imported recently but those which have lived in Miramichi for a hundred years. Since last October, I have given two folksong programs a week (free, gratis) on the local Radio. I discuss the folksong in general, tell the story and play one. You would be surprised at the interest which is taken by all classes. The people in the country districts, of course, are simply delighted to hear what they call “our own Songs” on the radio. I am pleased at the interest taken by more sophisticated people, to whom, at first, the songs sounded uncouth. As you know, our songs are sung on a 5-tone scale, in the “rubato parlando” or declamatory style, and they sound odd at first hearing to musical people. They have, however, an artistic entity of their own, and are really an important musical form. I am glad to say our recordings are mechanically superb – much better than the Nova Scotia ones, and better than most I have heard from the Library of Congress collection. I think I told you I collaborated in 4 programs for the CBC. These consisted of conversations between Miss Helen Creighton of Nova Scotia, and myself, illustrated by bits of our songs. Hers were mostly “traditional”, mine the woods songs of Miramichi. These have not yet broadcast yet, but they are recorded on tape ready for broadcasting…. (Signed) Sincerely, Louise Manny

Louise Manny
Beaverbrook Canadian Correspondence (MG H 156), Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick
CANADA Atlantic Provinces, Atlantic Provinces, CANADA
© 2007, Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, UNB. All Rights Reserved.

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