Alumni of the year
The members of Newfoundland's most popular foursome were this year's alumni of the year. “Members of Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle, BA'92, Sean McCann, BA '89, Darrell Power, BA'91, B.Ed.'93, and Bob Hallett, BA'90, are symbols of the province — rooted in tradition, thoroughly modern, and with much promise for the future.” — Dr. Donna Hardy-Cox, nominator.
Great Big Sea's list of awards and accolades since their arrival on the music scene in 1991 is impressive. Winning the East Coast Music Awards (ECMS) Entertainer of the Year Award four consecutive years (1996-99) has proved beyond a doubt that Newfoundland traditional music is a viable and important part of the music industry. The group has also won six other ECMAs, including Album of the Year in 1998 for Play, and six awards from the Music Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.
As symbols of all things Newfoundland, the four are often cited as the best spokesmen for the province, a responsibility they don't take lightly, according to Petty Harbour native Alan Doyle. “Whoever is prepared to proudly wear the Newfoundland flag on their sleeve must also be prepared to be considered a spokesperson for the province. As traveling artists, we often serve as Europeans' and Americans' first impressions of Newfoundland. We're pleased to see that folks such as those at Memorial feel that we are doing okay so far.”
Avid performers, the men spend considerable time on the road, away from their beloved Newfoundland. “The best part about being a member of Great Big Sea is the opportunity to perform traditional music around the world,” says Hallett; however, he's quick to add that the “worst part is the tedium of getting there.”
According to Doyle, the band's enthusiasm and energy is not hard to maintain, especially following long stints on airplanes and at airports. He says it's sometimes because of the cumbersomeness of travelling that the band can “cherish the 90 minutes on stage.”
Audiences worldwide are treated to their unique sound of Celtic rock, folk and traditional music. “From the beginning we knew that Newfoundland folk music deserved to be on a world stage and we were confident that, if it were presented properly, audiences would enjoy it. The pop success the band has enjoyed is a far greater surprise.”
The success continues. The band's latest release, Turn, which features seven original tunes, has already sold 130,000 copies since it was released June 22, 1999.
The distinction of Alumni of the Year is a new award for this group, one they are pleased and honouhonoredccept. “Winning Alumni of the Year is a much appreciated nod from a learned group that, as my transcript marks will show, do not hand out praise lightly,” says Doyle. “I am sure we are in good company as there are many deserving of this recognition. I am honoured.”
All four group members met, and assembled as Great Big Sea while they were arts students at Memorial. Check out the group's Web site www.greatbigsea.com, for more Great Big Sea details.