Nfld. & Labrador

Songwriter pays tribute to Cougar crash tragedy

A woman who wrote a heartfelt song about last month's helicopter crash off Newfoundland within hours of learning of the disaster did not know she had a personal connection to it.

A woman who wrote a heartfelt song about last month's helicopter crash off Newfoundland within hours of learning of the disaster did not know she had a personal connection to it.

Eddi Kenny-Boyd, a singer and songwriter based in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, said her song Cougar Tragedy flowed out of her as a direct response to the shock she felt on March 12, when the helicopter crashed, killing 17 of the 18 people aboard.

"I was having lunch with some friends and the message came across and I didn't know how to take it in," Kenny-Boyd said in an interview.

"I went home and I picked up the guitar and I sat down and it poured. I mean, literally — the whole song came out."

The song opens with the words: "The March wind was cold, I felt the chill deep in my soul," and reflects how Newfoundland and Labrador was plunged into mourning over the loss. The helicopter had been carrying offshore oil platform workers on what Kenny-Boyd's song describes as a "routine flight."

What Kenny-Boyd did not know when she was writing those lines was that she had a personal connection to the tragedy, through Allison Maher, 26, whose body was the first to be recovered.

"Several of my cousins are married to her aunts and uncles and I've known the family as a young child and it really hit home then," she said.

Funeral had profound effect

The meaning became even more poignant after she attended Maher's funeral, in which hundreds of people crowded into a small wooden church in Fermeuse, on Newfoundland's southern shore.

"It was really quite remarkable to see Newfoundland come together and it was in Fermeuse where I grew up and was raised," she said.

"To see people come together, it really made me really feel warm, in the sadness of all of it."

Through all of that, she couldn't find the right time to play the song, one of several that have already been written about a dark episode in the province's recent history.

One, Fall into the Ocean, was written and recorded by Mark Frost aboard the SeaRose offshore platform, in honour of his colleague and friend John Pelley, who died in the crash.

"People are ready to hear something healing, I think," Kenny-Boyd said. "I hope they realize that it's from the heart and that their loved ones will never, ever be forgotten."