The CD release party set for this Friday at the Lyceum will celebrate the life and accomplishments of Lauchie Gillis nearly thirty years after his passing. The afternoon will be a testament to the longevity of Scottish culture and the Gaelic language.
Songs From the Mira, Volume 2 includes the 14 tracks produced on an LP in the mid-80’s, with an additional 9 songs from archive tapes. The BBC and other archivists originally recorded Lauchie’s strong Gaelic singing on reel to reel tapes in the Gillis home more than fifty years ago.
Cape Breton University’s Centre for Cape Breton Studies completed the modifications and transformation of the original tracks to create the CD. Under the direction of Dr. Richard MacKinnon and sound technician Chris Jones, they were able to clean up the original recordings, yet also maintain their authenticity of sound.
Born in Grand Mira South, my grandfather, Lauchie was a meat man and a farmer. He traveled the roads of Cape Breton gathering animals and then selling their meat. During his travels he’d often be asked to fill a home with rousing Gaelic milling songs and soft lamenting ballads. As a member of the Grand Mira Gaelic Choir, he and the other dozen men in the choir would perform in living rooms in the area. They won a national folklore competition in 1952.
He married Jeannette MacLellan, also of Grand Mira South and they were parents to eleven children. On Father’s Day in 1980, Lauchie died of a heart attack at his family’s kitchen table—the very same spot where he had entertained countless guests and family with his singing.
Performers for the CD release include The Cape Breton Gaelic Choir, Donnie Campbell, Ciarán and Fiona MacGillivary, Breagh MacKinnon and Anita MacDonald. CBC Mainstreet’s Wendy Bergfeldt will broadcast her show live from the event.
The proceeds from the CD, as with the tapes and records before it, all go toward the Lauchie Gillis Memorial Scholarship at CBU. This fund is awarded to students interested in the Gaelic language, Celtic studies, folklore and music. More than twenty students have received the Lauchie Gillis Memorial Scholarship since it began in 1988.
All are welcome to join in the celebrations on Friday, December 4th from 4-6pm on the first floor of the Lyceum.