SW Sounds: Dayna Manning

Dayna Manning tells us about her new album, Morning Light.

The Stratford artist explores chamber-folk with a supporting cast of hometown musicians

Stratford singer-songwriter Dayna Manning is playing an album release concert at the Grand Theatre's McManus Stage in London for her new album, Morning Light. (Copyright Dave Brosha Photography)

SW Sounds is a weekly feature that profiles a southwestern Ontario artist and their new music. Listen for it Mondays on Afternoon Drive between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on CBC Radio One. 

Stratford's Dayna Manning has been incredibly busy lately.

Late October saw the release of the singer-songwriter's first book, Many Moons: A Songwriter's Memoir.

She also decided to release a new album. On the same day, no less.

Morning Light finds Manning exploring the genre of chamber folk with a supporting cast of hometown musicians. It's a collection of Manning's songs, paired with a few interpretations of traditional folk tunes.

Manning will celebrate the release of Morning Light with a December 15 concert at the Grand Theatre's McManus Stage in London.

How did the direction of the new album come about?

It's my first foray into chamber folk - acoustic guitar and vocals with cello, violin, French horn, flute and some extra instruments. I was asked to do a show with INNERchamber, which is a chamber music conglomerate in Stratford. The minute we played our first song together, I didn't want to do anything else.

I felt that the instrumentation went really well with my voice, which has a bit of a classical background to it. I was also raised by concert musicians: my mother plays clarinet and my father plays trumpet. I felt like this approach sounded like home: it's emotional, it's storytelling.

How did you decide on the album's song selection?

I've tried to do a thread with the songs that I chose. The song 'The Bonny Banks of the Virgie, O' was written 300, 400 years ago. It's a traditional folk song that originated in England and was found again in Newfoundland. So I combined two different versions of it for this album and kind of re-did it. Then there's 'Peter Amberley,' which was written in 1890. I also did 'Free Man in Paris' by Joni Mitchell from the '70s, and a few of my songs that I've written that were inspired by folk stories of today. So I've tried to thread a connection through music and community.

Tell us about the song, 'You You You'.

This one was really fun to do as the producer of the album. It has tempo changes that are all over the map and kind of an 'A', 'B' and 'C' section. I recorded it three or four times before I was happy with the way the arc of the song went. Then Franklin Braz, the musical director of the Stratford Festival, he came in and just played the piano like I'd never seen it played! I just love the track so much. It's a song about long distance love and the rewards of when you finally find yourself in the same town.

This interview was edited and condensed. Have a listen to 'You You You' as part of Dayna Manning SW Sounds profile:

Late 2019 has been very busy for Stratford's Dayna Manning. She discusses her new album, Morning Light, with Host Chris dela Torre. 6:58

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About the Author

Chris dela Torre

Host of Afternoon Drive

Chris dela Torre is the host of Afternoon Drive on CBC Radio One in Southwestern Ontario. He's worked as a host, reporter and producer in several cities across Canada, and has hosted several CBC network programs, such as q, DNTO and The Story From Here.