S.A.C. Pro Member, Lennie Gallant, Inducted Into The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

Lennie Gallant Graphic.png

A song taking on its own life is surely among the most gratifying of events in the life of a songwriter. As “Peter’s Dream” turns 25 years old and its author and singer Lennie Gallant prepared to commemorate the song at a special ceremony in Charlottetown during the East Coast Music Awards, the hard topic of the song must seem an ironic sentiment to celebrate. The song appeared on Gallant’s album “The Open Window” in 1994 and has been recorded on a number of live projects since then. The ceremony itself is to induct the song into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Gallant says he is deeply honoured to have his song chosen and be part of a national collection of songs by his songwriting heroes.

The enduring popularity of a song about the collapse of the east coast fishery that left tens of thousands unemployed in a long unstable regional economy, a song that remains sadly topical 25 years later, must come with some pangs of frustration with Maritime living standards.

Lennie Gallant was born in Rustico, Prince Edward Island, the eldest of six. The family lived in a small apartment above their grandfather’s grocery store in Rustico. Despite having three Francophone grandparents in Acadian-populated Prince Edward Island, there was no French school in Rustico by the time Lennie was a student. The village was surrounded by English communities and the French language had eventually almost completely disappeared. Consequently, he spoke no French as a child but Gallant would, later, pursue the language of his Acadian heritage and eventually even write and record two of his 12 albums in the language of Molière.

In the meantime, young Gallant received a guitar for his thirteenth year Christmas and taught himself to play. His mother played piano by ear, and along with his father, often participated in musical comedy shows in small community halls to raise money for local families in need due to sick kids, accidents, or fires etc. As soon as Lennie learned a few chords on the guitar he was enlisted to join and so began his musical career.

In 1988 he released his first album, “Breakwater.” “Believing in Better” followed in 1992, but his breakthrough came two years after that, with his album “The Open Window” which was released by Sony and contained the soon-to-be Maritime classic “Peter’s Dream.” A number of award winning albums followed and then Gallant was approached by DKD productions in Montreal to record his first French album in 2002. It was a struggle, as he was still wrestling with the language, but the singer was determined to produce a collection of original French songs that wouldn’t be merely competent, or even good (for an Anglo) but rather, a collection of songs French music fans could properly appreciate and enjoy. “Le Vent Boheme” was the result and won him Acadian album of the year at Les Prix Éloizes and a Francophone East Coast Music Award. Years later, in 2009 he’d win another for his second Francophone album “La Coeur Hanté.” He considers himself primarily an Anglophone writer however, and has won 19 East Coast Music Awards for his English efforts along with three Juno nominations. He even found himself being honoured for his work in both languages as a member of the Order of Canada.

Over the years Gallant released several live albums, the latest of which, 2016’s “Searching for Abegweit” was a double CD and contained all the songs from his much celebrated multimedia theatrical hit, “Searching For Abegweit”. Abegweit is the Mi’Kmaq name for Prince Edward Island, “the place cradled by the waves.” The show was supposed to run for one summer but is so popular it has now been extended to five seasons and has been performed over 160 times.

In 2018, Gallant released “Time Travel” which muses on the subject of time, humanity’s place on Earth and the universe in general. He performed one of its most popular songs, “Sequoia,” at the 2019 East Coast Music Awards accompanied by The Atlantic String Machine orchestra to tremendous reception. Gallant’s music has actually previously experienced real space travel, when Canadian astronaut and current Governor-General Julie Payette brought his album, “When We Get There”, to the International Space Station for the crew to enjoy. The Governor General recently presented Gallant with a mounted photo of that crew and his much travelled album embedded in the piece at a reception in Charlottetown. Gallant’s music has been featured in movies and television, and his songs covered by Maritimers as diverse as The Rankins, Matt Minglewood, and Measha Brueggergosman. Jimmy Buffet has recorded Gallant as well, extolled his praises as a songwriter, and even performed with him on stage. After many summers spent crossing the continent, Lennie Gallant will be spending this next summer in PEI where he will again perform his Island love letter, “Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant”. Fans will be able to catch him on his home turf, where on a clear night, you can sing Peter’s Dream around a campfire and watch the space station pass by overhead.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Spotify Ep. 9 - CMW

Don’t forget to check out these Lennie Gallant songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2ZWk8an

1. Time Travel
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

2. What Are You Waiting For
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

3. Sequoia
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

4. Ghosts in This Town
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

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