Nfld. & Labrador

Songs From Home: How these musicians turned a pandemic into an opportunity for collaboration

Alan Doyle, Fortunate Ones, The Once, Rachel Cousins and the Ennis Sisters came together — while apart — during the pandemic, to create a six-song EP.

6-song EP was almost entirely created while the artists were in isolation

Alan Doyle, the Fortunate Ones, the Ennis Sisters, The Once and Rachel Cousins perform It's Ok in Doyle's living room. As restrictions lifted, they were able to get together in person to put the finishing touches on the project. (Submitted by Alan Doyle)

When the pandemic reached Newfoundland and Labrador in March, five of our province's award-winning artists all found themselves in uncharted territory.

The Once were in sound check in Georgetown, P.E.I., on March 13 with a concert scheduled for later that evening.

Alan Doyle was on the road on the largest tour of his career.

Rachel Cousins was planning a temporary move to Toronto so she could network in the industry while working on a new album.

The Ennis Sisters were on vacation in Florida with a spring tour lined up and a full summer and fall of bookings. 

The Fortunate Ones were preparing to record a new album in May in Toronto. 

All of their plans were thrown up in the air, with dates being pushed, rescheduled and then cancelled entirely. 

The Once, Alan Doyle, the Ennis Sisters, Rachel Cousins and the Fortunate Ones will be performing this weekend. (Submitted by Alan Doyle)

Working together while apart

For Doyle, sitting around wasn't an option.

Doyle heard a news story about the MusicNL Press On program, which was launched in April to support innovative and sustainable projects for industry professionals.

"I very quickly honestly thought, 'I know what we could do. We could set up recording outfits in a bunch of different artist's houses and we could record 90 per cent of a project over the internet,'" said Doyle. 

He reached out to The Once, the Fortunate Ones, the Ennis Sisters and Cousins to see if they were interested. 

They all said yes. 

"When Alan calls you and says he has something brewing, it's like, of course you're going to be in," said Cousins. 

And then they got to work. 

WATCH how these Newfoundland musicians came together while in isolation to create music:

Songs from Home

CBC News Newfoundland

5 months ago
7:40
Alan Doyle, Fortunate Ones, The Once, Rachel Cousins and The Ennis Sisters used the pandemic as an opportunity to collaborate - creating a 6-song EP together. Video shot and edited by Rodrigo Iniguez. 7:40

What resulted from the project is a six-track EP called Songs From Home. Each musician or group has their own track, and the sixth song — It's Ok — features vocals by everyone. 

"The music itself speaks for itself. It is a lovely, beautiful project. But how this all came together in a time when it seems impossible is truly the story," said Maureen Ennis. 

Phil Churchill of The Once called the album a "snapshot in time."

"This is what life was like for five groups or artists from Newfoundland in 2020," he said.

The Fortunate Ones' Catherine Allan said there's an "unspoken bond" among touring artists from Newfoundland.

"You know what each other's life looks like. You know on the road, creatively, whatever it is. And to be actually able to work together officially just strengthens that bond," said Allan. 

"They're very special, special people to us. High time we worked together in this way." 

The launch of the EP

Doyle performs with the Fortunate Ones and Cousins on Friday, and with The Once and the Ennis Sisters on Saturday.

With COVID-19 restrictions, in-person capacities for concerts are limited. Both concerts are sold out but virtual tickets are available so people can watch the concert from home. 

The Songs From Home EP will be available for purchase on Friday. 

Video shot and edited by Rodrigo Iniguez.

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