PEI

Gene MacLellan show coming this summer, starring daughter Catherine

Audiences will once again get to hear the songs of Gene MacLellan this summer, as his daughter Catherine will star in show performing his music and telling his life story.

Juno-winning singer paying tribute to her father, singing his songs, telling his life story

Gene MacLellan best-known song is Snowbird, an international hit for Anne Murray in 1970. (CBC)

Beloved P.E.I. songwriter Gene MacLellan is being featured this summer in a new show about his life and music, and who better to sing his praises than his own daughter.

Juno Award-winning folk musician Catherine MacLellan will star in If it's Alright with You — The Life and Music of My Father, Gene MacLellan

Gene MacLellan came to fame on CBC-TV's Singalong Jubilee, and wrote the worldwide-hits Snowbird for Anne Murray in 1970, and Put Your Hand In The Hand for Ocean in 1971. He died in 1995 in Summerside. 

'I'm really proud of what my dad did'

The show will be at the PEI Brewing Company, Monday to Wednesday each week, starting July 3.

Catherine MacLellan came to fame on her own, winning a Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Solo Album in 2015. (Nicole Williams/CBC)
"I'm really proud of what my dad did, and I think it's time for people to get a fuller picture of it," said MacLellan at the announcement of the show Thursday morning.

The production will feature many songs of Gene MacLellan's performed by Catherine and her five-piece band, as well as personal and surprising stories.

Life story

"Basically the story of my dad's life and all of his music," she said. "It's really exciting for me because I've been digging up and doing research, and some friends along the way have been helping. And there's all kinds of things that I didn't know and so obviously lots of things that people didn't know about my dad and songs that they've never heard."

The show will also feature visual elements, including many previously unseen photos of MacLellan, as well as audio clips from interviews.

'A little bit closer'

Catherine MacLellan avoided singing her father's songs for the first decade of her career, choosing to make it on her own songwriting merits.

In the last few years, she has started performing and even recording some of his material.

Songwriter Gene MacLellan was born in Quebec, but moved to P.E.I. in 1964 and considered the Island his real home. (Boris Supremo)
"It's been so interesting, it's made me feel a little bit closer to my dad," she said. "I'm at a point in my life where my daughter is growing up and I'm just excited to be a part of a tradition. My daughter is learning how to play music and she loves to sing all the time, and I remember being that little girl as my dad was doing his thing."

Old notebooks found

The greatest find in her research was coming across his old lyric book.

"I found his first notebook that had good copies, hand-written, of his songs like Snowbird and The Robin," she said. "It was just really nice to see his songs in his writing. It's a really special book for me."

Since he's been gone for 22 years, it's been a tough emotional journey for MacLellan at times.

"As I look for my dad in all of these places, he seems further away," she said. "But as I play the music, I realize that's where he is, he's really in the music. So the more I get to play his music, the closer I feel to him. So this has been a good experience of doing all this research and crafting these stories."

She's also been busy in the studio, recording a full album of Gene MacLellan songs, which will be released in time for the show. She also plans to tour the production across Canada, in the fall or next spring. 

From the Mainstreet interview by Angela Walker

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