Lennie Gallant, Artist of the Week
Lennie Gallant is a native of Rustico, Prince Edward Island. His music crosses into the folk, Celtic, rock and country music genres. Lennie Gallant received his first guitar for Christmas when he was 13. After performing in a variety of rock and Celtic folk bands in his teenage years, Gallant formed Speed The Plow, a band that was a mixture of folk and rock in the vein of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. He also performed at a variety of folk festivals and also wrote music for film and theatre.
This renowned Canadian singer-songwriter has recorded eleven albums (nine mostly in English and two in French), which have won him a host of awards and nominations from both the JUNOs and East Coast Music Awards, and Les Prix Eloizes. He was recently honored with the Canadian Folk Music Award for Artist of the Year for his latest recording “Live Acoustic at The Carleton”. He has recently wrapped up the second season of his runaway multimedia hit musical, “Searching For Abegweit -The Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant”, which ran for over 85 sold out shows in Charlottetown. He has just released a new double CD of 22 songs from that production, and many of the show’s visual images appear in the book, Peter’s Dream, a collaboration with sibling visual artist Karen Gallant that showcases 52 of her paintings paired up with his songs.
His latest studio recording, If We Had a Fire, picked up the award for Roots Recording of the Year from East Coast Music Awards. His previous album, When We Get There was nominated for a JUNO Award and went into space aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. Canadian astronaut Julie Payette chose the album for the astronaut crew to enjoy.
He was inducted into the Order of Canada where it was said, “Gallant has garnered much respect for his hard hitting songs chronicling the lives of people dealing with tremendous adversity and serious issues. Songs like “Peter’s Dream,” “Island Clay,” “Man of Steel” and “The Hope for Next Year,” articulate the feelings of many caught up in desperate situations beyond their control, and at the same time celebrate the beauty of lifestyle and landscape with their strong poetry and stirring narratives.”
While he says he is much appreciative of this kind of recognition for his work, Gallant feels the best part of being a songwriter is the moment of creation. “When you really feel locked in with the ability to tell a story or convey an emotion in a unique yet, hopefully, a universal way.” Other artists obviously believe in Gallant’s writing abilities as over 30 artists have recorded his songs internationally, including Jimmy Buffett. His songs have been used in television series – Dawson’s Creek (“Northern Lights”), Joan of Arcadia (“Something Unspoken”) and in numerous theatrical productions.
In addition to writing all the songs on his ten albums, he co-wrote the theme song for the first World Conference / Congres Mondial Acadien (“Acadie de nos couer”), and for Pier 21, Canada’s immigration gateway. He was also asked to write a song for Halifax’s 250th anniversary (“History is Happening Now”), which was then performed with a choir of 2000 voices on one of the two bridges spanning the harbour.
Having previously recorded albums only in English, and despite limited knowledge of French, for his 6th release, Gallant fulfilled a long held dream of writing and recording an album in the language of his Acadian roots. Gallant said “I worked extremely hard on that album as I wasn’t interested in releasing something that was just a pretty good effort for a guy who grew up speaking English. I wanted it to be accepted as a bona fide French language recording that would stand up beside other albums out there.” It seems Gallant was successful in that quest as the album, “Le vent bohème,” won “Francophone Album of the Year” at the 2003 East Coast Music Awards, and “Acadian album of the Year” at the Gala des Étoiles. “It’s an absolutely wonderful CD (Le vent bohème), the lyrics are powerful and the music is sensational.” – Bernard St Laurent, Radio Canada. The album led to Gallant being invited to perform for a week with the Acadian theatrical phenomenon “Ode L’Acadie, a musical revue featuring exceptional young musicians and singers performing works from the cream of Acadian songwriters.”
Gallant released his second French recording “Le coeur hanté” in November 2009 through Fontana North/Universal, which won “Francophone Recording of the Year” at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards.
An international touring artist who has represented Canada on songwriter events in Nashville, London and Texas, entertained our troops in Kandahar, performed at Canada Day events in Washington and London, and on the world stage at the XXI Winter Olympics