Stan Rogers: Folk Singer, Storyteller, Proud Canadian Part 2
Stan Rogers and his music have had a deep and lasting impact on Canada. He remains one of the country's most beloved and influential singer/songwriters. He sang about the history, geography, and people of Canada and was a fiercely proud musical ambassador. His life and career were cut short by a tragic airplane fire in 1983. He was only 33 years old. 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of Stan's debut album Fogarty's Cove.
Six years and three albums later, Stan appeared on the CBC Radio program The Entertainers. It was 1982 and he'd just released Northwest Passage. Stan's warmth and humility shone through as he spoke about the importance of cultivating and maintaining a close personal connection with his audience. His goal, he said, was to stay honest to himself and to all the people he played for. "I never want to be some kind of plastic star," he insisted. After each performance, Stan made a point of going out to meet his audience, to find out what his music meant to them, and to hear their stories. Stan said some of his best songs were inspired by the things people told him after a show.
In June 1983, Stan Rogers performed at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. He was flying home when smoke filled the cabin of the airplane. The plane landed safely at the Cincinnati airport, but when the doors were opened, oxygen rushed in and started a flash fire. Twenty-three passengers on the plane died. One of them Stan Rogers.
The following morning, freelance reporter Stephen Barker appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning to talk about what had happened.
Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, called Rogers "an extraordinary talent, the likes of which we haven't seen since Bob Dylan." Tom Paxton said Rogers "was to Canada what Woody Guthrie was to the United States." Lyrics from his songs are also quoted frequently. In 1999, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson ended her first public speech with a line from Northwest Passage which describes the waterway as "tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage."
Stan Rogers was one of the most talented singers and songwriters in North America.
For more about Stan's music, visit Borealis Records.
Music by Stan Rogers featured in this episode of Rewind:
Instrumental version of Northwest Passage
Mary Ellen Carter
Let Me Fish Off Cape St Mary's
Field Behind the Plow