Newfoundlanders have long and lustily sung their folksongs, and the tradition remains strong today. Despite modern influences, the old songs persist, mixed with new songs that are composed to record the events of our time. This is the first major collection of Newfoundland folksongs compiled and edited by native Newfoundlanders. It concentrates on songs of local composition largely ignored by earlier collectors and presents a significant number of songs never before published.
For most of the last decade Lehr and Best have been travelling around the island recording the voices and favourite songs of anyone, young and old, who would perform. Recordings took place in family kitchens, on stage heads, and in trap stores while the singer knitted twine or repaired lobster pots, aboard ships at anchor or en route to some small deserted harbour. Humming engines, blowing oilstoves, or clattering supper dishes provided accompaniment.
The 120 songs collected here by Lehr and Best have been transcribed by Pamela Morgan and illustrated by Elly Cohen. Some recall the distant past of a long and rich seafaring tradition; others tell of such recent tragedies as the displacement of outport people and the sinking of the Ocean Ranger. The selection represents the state of the folk-song in Newfoundland today; in some part it documents what is lost and forgotten, but it also celebrates what has survived, and thrives.