Séan McCann, widely known as a member of internationally renowned band, Great Big Sea, has spent the last 20 years sailing around the world enamouring audiences from Copenhagen to California. Known as much for his intense screaming sea shanties as his tender ballads, McCann decided it was time to leave the comfort of safer waters and set out on his own for a new shore. His new album, and third solo project, entitled Help Your Self was released digitally on January 29th, 2014.
How did you get started at Memorial?
Slowly ... there was a lot to take in.
Can you give me the details on the degrees you’ve received (and when) from Memorial?
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and philosophy, 1989.
What memories stand out from your time as a student at Memorial?
I remember working in plays, Everard King's energetic poetry classes and the Platonic wisdom of Dr. John Scott (the head of the philosophy department at that time).
You've been a professional musician and writer for years - how did your arts degree prepare you for those dual occupations?
I believe the artist has a responsibility to ask life's difficult questions for everybody and while my time at MUN didn't necessarily provide all the answers, it did help me identify some of the major problems. Before we can be found, we must first realize that we are lost.
Can you talk a bit about what the creative process is like for you and how you get inspired?
I am inspired by beautiful things: my wife, my boys, and long walks in the woods. I have taught myself to be a good listener and I use the voice recorder on my cell phone to save all of my inklings for when I am ready to revisit them. No idea is too small.
You're known as "The Shantyman" - where did that come from?
Part of my former job (Great Big Sea) was delivering sea shanties (a variant of folk music popular in Newfoundland) at extremely high volume.
What stands out for you over your career thus far?
My life in music has taught me that a song has the power to change the world ... one mind at a time.
Your latest concept album, Help Your Self, was produced by Joel Plaskett. What was he like to work with?
Music is my religion and it was a great privilege to worship at the Tower of Song with Joel. He is a very sincere individual and I found him to be very "Help Full".