Rewind

Stan Rogers: Folk Singer, Storyteller, Proud Canadian Part 1

The first part of a tribute to the folksinger Stan Rogers, whose booming voice told stories of Canada. 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of Stan’s first album, Fogarty’s Cove. This program is a celebration of an amazing Canadian musician.
Stan Rogers (Denis Ryan)
Performers at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. (CBC)

Stan Rogers told stories in song about Canada. He chronicled our rich history and geography and featured people who worked on the land and on the sea. Stan died far too young at the age of 33 as the result of a disastrous fire on an airplane. Every summer, folk festivals across the country play homage to Stan's enduring legacy of great songs. The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, held every year in Canso, Nova Scotia features some of the finest songwriters and performers in North America. They gather to celebrate Stan's contributions to folk music not just in Canada but around the world.

In 1976, when Stan Rogers was just starting to get some attention, he appeared on the CBC program Touch the Earth, hosted by fellow singer Sylvia Tyson. He talked about his early musical influences, his concern about being typecast, and the importance of staying true to his artistic vision. The following year, after the release of Fogarty's Cove, Stan spoke to CBC host Valerie Elia. He told her he thought of himself as a misfit in high school and that performing music was a way for him to make friends and be cool. Stan talked about the one and only love song he ever wrote. It was for his soon-to-be wife and is called Forty Five Years. He also referred to his brother Garnet who performed alongside him, and the story behind the album's title song Fogarty's Cove.

Garnet and Stan Rogers (Fogarty's Cove Music - StanRogers.net)

Stan didn't want to be like every other songwriter and write exclusively about love and heartbreak. He found it infinitely more interesting to write about other people, real or imagined, and figure out what made them tick. He loved everything to do with history, whether it was unearthing stories of Canadian men and women, or closer to home, stories from his family. Stan might be best known for his Maritime stories and songs, but he wrote about history too. One man he immortalized in song was nineteen year old Billy Green, known as Billy Green the Scout. Billy was key to the British victory in the war of 1812 when he alerted the British to American troops, a sort of Paul Revere in reverse. In the song, Stan gave a detailed account of Billy Green's heroism and described the process of researching and writing a song about the young hero while wanting to maintain the story's historical integrity.

Next week, Rewind presents part two of this celebration of Stan Rogers. You'll learn more about Stan's process for writing songs, hear plenty of great songs as well as a tribute to Stan by his brother Garnet after Stan's untimely death in 1983.
Stan Rogers playing with his Uncle Lee. (Kim Jarvis)

Songs featured on this edition of Rewind:

Northwest Passage
Fogarty's Cove
Rawdan Hills
Barrett's Privateers 
Billy Green

Visit Stan Roger's website for more information on Stan.

Visit Borealis Records to get the music .

Stan Rogers (CBC Still Photo Collection)

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