The Collective Works of Dr. Winnie Chafe
In this, her 50th year in music, the ‘first lady of the violin’, Winnie Chafe has released a collection which chronicles her impressive history on the local and international stage. With 22 cuts to choose from, each one marks a poignant moment, whether with historical or personal significance, some joy-filled, others, sorrowful. Though she may be most recognized for her mastery of the slow air, her 6th album, ‘The Collective Works of Dr. Winnie Chafe’, demonstrates her ability to celebrate the joyous times with uplifting, carefree jigs and reels.
Accompanied by daughter, composer, Pat Chafe, Winnie presents some of her most remarkable material from previous recordings, many of which pay tribute to people and places who have played an integral part in her life, both personally and professionally. The first, ‘Terri MacLuhan’s Welcome to Cape Breton’, one of my favorites, is a light and lively number in a celebratory tone. Written by Pat, the tune honors director MacLuhan, on the premiere of her movie ‘The Third Walker’, at the Savoy in 1980. The Chafes performed the selection at a reception at the time of the event.
‘The Golden Rod Group’, again shows Winnie’s ability to exude joy in her music, in this instance to the delight of any dancer. ‘Compliments to Terri MacLellan’, is a beautifully delicate slow air, that pays fitting tribute to the familiar, soothing, voice of broadcasting during the 40’s and 50’s in Cape Breton. ‘Memories and Molasses’ allows Winnie to bring the essence of growing up in a musical kitchen, of tunes and baking, that go hand in hand with traditional Cape Breton childhood.
Though most of us can associate a certain piece of music to stages in our own lives, imagine the gift of having the ability of putting those emotions into a composition. This is most eloquently provided with ‘Echoes’, a thoughtful remembrance written by Pat on the passing of her father Mike Chafe, and of course lovingly performed with Winnie at her side.
‘The Scotsville Reel’ and Chorus Jig’ groups, are excellent examples of the true Cape Breton style of fiddling; while the ‘Queen’s Welcome to Invercauld’ a march from the Legacy album, recalls Winnie’s invitation to be part of a historic ceilidh at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland in 1975, as a representative from Nova Scotia.
Another of my favorites, ‘Piper’s Pride’, is an intricately woven tune, again composed by Pat. The lively selection combines violin, piano, viola de gamba, and flute/oboe, for a most interesting musical march.
These are but a sample of the extended list offered for the listener’s pleasure, a fitting collection of the work of an award-winning pioneer in Cape Breton’s musical history. Those who have followed the career of Winnie Chafe, will not want to be without this compilation. And for those who wish to discover the incredible range of a dedicated artist, ‘The Collective Works of Dr. Winnie Chafe’ is an impressive look at the first 50 years of a life devoted to the love and preservation of music.