There’s a whole new breed of music finding its way onto the stages and into the stereos of local music fans. Cape Breton Island, for generations, has boasted a surplus of traditional talent – be it in the Celtic style of fiddles and piano or in the language of Gaelic, French or other native tongues. More recently, island residents have begun to accept and enjoy many forms of the not so familiar genres of music, namely classical.
At the recent Celtic Colours International Festival, there were several opportunities to get acquainted with Peter Gillis, a Whitney Pier native who lives in New Jersey, but is proud to claim the Island as home. On his latest return visit he launched his CD debut Cape Breton Tenor, and immediately won the applause and support of quite a following of fans.
Staying close to his roots, Gillis presents his favourite traditional ballads such as “Cape Breton Lullaby” and “Arm of Gold”. A favourite of mine is “Come to the Hills”, which includes the jig “Hunting the Hare”, for a lovely pairing.
The album carries several originals, both lyrical and instrumental, most dealing with fond remembrances of childhood on the Island.
Gillis is joined by some stand-out accompanists in the form of Kimberley Fraser, Shawn MacDonald, Dave McKeough, Red Mike MacDonald, David MacDonald, Nathan Richards and Fred Lavery.
Produced with the encouragement of his many friends and family, Gillis pays tribute to his own love and enjoyment of music, and what it has meant to his life. But for the most part it pays homage to a place held dear, as is the case with anyone who must move “away”.
Cape Breton Tenor is a must have for those who cherish the chance to celebrate the beauty of the island in the words and music of some of the masters, both past and present. Delivered here with much respect, by a man whose voice has captured the hearts of those who share his message in song.