PEI

'He was a wicked songwriter': Catherine MacLellan releasing album of Gene's songs

Fans of Gene MacLellan's music get a double-treat this summer; not only is his daughter Catherine doing a stage show of his songs, she's also releasing a full album.

If it's Alright With You album to go along with new theatre show this summer

Catherine MacLellan has announced a new album of her father's music called If It's Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan. (CBC)

Fans of Gene MacLellan's music get a double-treat this summer; not only is his daughter Catherine doing a stage show of his songs, she's also releasing a full album.

The show, called If It's Alright With You: The Life and Music of My Father, Gene MacLellan is being performed by Juno-winning singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan.

There's a companion album being issued as well, also called If It's Alright With You, featuring 12 of her father's songs performed by Catherine MacLellan.

"When we realized we were actually going to do the show, I figured we'd been wanting to do a record of my dad's music for a long time, so I figured why not now?" MacLellan told Angela Walker on Mainstreet P.E.I.

Timing is right

The album was recorded for the most part in the new home studio MacLellan's partner and producer Chris Gauthier has built behind their home.

Like the stage show, the timing is finally right for her to tackle the impressive legacy of her father's world-famous songwriting.

"Starting out as a young singer-songwriter in Summerside, P.E.I., where everyone knew my dad, yeah, I definitely didn't know who I was yet, and I wanted to figure that out before I let his career overtake mine," she said. "It's been 20 years of me playing and writing my own stuff, so if I'm not ready now, I'll never be."

The album includes Gene MacLellan's best-known songs, such as Snowbird, The Call and Bidin' My Time, but also lesser-known ones such as Just Want To Be Loved By You.

At first, one of his biggest hits, Put Your Hand in the Hand, wasn't going to be on the album, as she couldn't find a good way to approach it. But a tour of Alberta changed that.

'I realized I have a long way to go'

"In March I was touring with J.P. Cormier and Dave Gunning, and we couldn't figure out one night what to do for an encore," said MacLellan. "So we kind of threw that out there. The version of that was so fun I thought, 'Oh man, we have to record this,' so we went into a studio the next day and recorded it in three hours and it's one of my favourite things on the record."

She has spent a lot of time learning her father's songs, including ones that she hadn't heard growing up, and has come away with a new appreciation she hopes to share.

"He was a wicked songwriter," she said. "Just the attention to detail in the way the lyrics flow, and the melody. It's hard to explain, but there isn't a line that doesn't fall perfectly, and I guess I realized I have a long way to go."

If It's Alright With You: The Songs Of Gene MacLellan is being released June 30, and the stage show at P.E.I. Brewing Company begins July 3, with advance tickets available now.

From the Mainstreet P.E.I. interview by Angela Walker

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