Thunder Bay

New song celebrates City of Thunder Bay's 50th anniversary and history

A new song called "Happy Birthday Thunder Bay" celebrates the cities 50th birthday, while name checking places well know to the residents of pre-amalgamation Port Arthur and Fort William.

Rodney Brown wrote and recorded `Happy Birthday Thunder Bay' during pandemic

Thunder Bay dancer Hailey Grant is featured in the video dancing at the waterfront. (Superior Theatre Festival/Facebook)

A new song called "Happy Birthday Thunder Bay" celebrates the city's 50th birthday, while name checking places well know to the residents of pre-amalgamation Port Arthur and Fort William.

The song is part of a community project undertaking by the Superior Theatre Festival called the "undercurrents 2020 project."

Rodney Brown wrote and recorded "Happy Birthday Thunder Bay" after being commissioned.

"Originally, they were going to have my recorded song playing over speakers and then have a dancer dance to the piece on the waterfront as a public event during the summertime," said Brown. "But the pandemic kind of threw through that off and there were some other delays. But yeah, finally the project came together just a couple weeks ago."

Brown, who has had a long career as a singer-songwriter in Thunder Bay, said he put a lot of thought into how he wanted to present the song.

Although Brown is known for writing songs that have some social commentary running through them, he said he wanted this song to be upbeat and celebratory.

"It was during the time in the lock down and I thought, you know, we needed something kind of fun," he said.

Brown was born in Fort William, in 1954, and grew up beside Canada Car until he was in Grade 4. Then his family moved to the area around Franklin and Empire Street. This history helped inform his song.

Thunder Bay singer/songwriter Rodney Brown wanted "Happy Birthday Thunder Bay" to be a celebration of the city and fun. (Supplied by Rodney Brown)

"So I looked back at all all the fun places, the places that came to my mind that that I remembered as momentous during  my childhood and teenage years and kind of put it together from there."

Growing up on the south side, Brown didn't have as many north side touch stones to draw on. So, with that in mind, he asked some friends and residents for help.

"I didn't grow up in Port Arthur, so I put a call out on Facebook asking people to give me their memories of places they hung out at, where they had fun on the north side," said Brown. "So I tried to give equal time to Fort William and Port Arthur."

Brown recorded the song with another Thunder Bay musician, Jean-Paul De Roover, who played mandolin, electric guitar, bass, seaboard and percussion. De Roover also produced the record.

The video that accompanies the song features Thunder Bay's Hailey Grant dancing to it at the city's waterfront.

Brown said he was thrilled with the video and the whole final product.

"I had lots of fun writing the song," he said. "It was a good time."

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