Juno-nominated folksinger's province-wide tour celebrates 100 years of labour history
One of Alberta's best-known folk singers will be touring southern Alberta in early May to present stories about the early years of Alberta labour through song.
"This tour is part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and I am thrilled to be a part of it," says Juno-nominated Maria Dunn.
"It is an excellent opportunity to celebrate, through songs, the efforts and accomplishments of the labour movement in Alberta, to remind ourselves about where we come from, and to ensure that we preserve these precious, hard-won rights — the right to collective bargaining, unemployment insurance, equal pay for women, public education, living wages, workers' health and safety standards and compensation, public health care, pensions, etc."
Dunn will lead a trio of performers into five centres in southern Alberta as she kicks off the province-wide tour. The tour, which consists of 13 concerts, will begin in Medicine Hat on the evening of May 3 and then be in Lethbridge on May 4, Calgary on May 5, Drumheller on May 6 and in Olds on May 7.
She will present Troublemakers: Working Albertans, 1900-1950, which documents the history of working people in Alberta's early days, depicting the resilience and hope which brought them through experiences of immigration, internment, exploitation and the Great Depression.
Dunn will sing of union organizers, feminists and radicals who led the earliest struggles, attracting the attention and punishment of the authorities. Appearing her will be Shannon Johnson (violin, vocal) and Terry Morrison (vocal, guitar), both well-known artists in their own right.
"When I began exploring our vibrant people's history for the songs ... I wanted to share with my fellow Albertans what I had learned about our long and fascinating history of labour organization, citizen action, the diversity of voices that shaped our province and their tireless efforts to gain the human rights and community benefits that we currently enjoy," says Dunn.
This multimedia event uses video to introduce and situate songs in their historical context, with images of the people and the locations in which the stories occurred. In each case, Dunn adds her own personal introduction before presenting the song, a combination which makes for an engaging and enjoyable 60-minute education on Alberta labour history.
In several centres, the AFL celebration is being coupled with a local event. The Medicine Hat stop for example, is scheduled as part of a year-long Program at Medalta Potteries to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Medicine Hat Pottery Company in 1912.
In Lethbridge, the birthplace of the AFL, Maria's concert will take place on the eve of a March of Unions and Picnic in the Park that is being organized by a local group.
In five concerts on the 13-date tour, Dunn will perform a different labour-themed show, called GWG: Piece-by-Piece. It is a 60-minute ballad depicting the experiences of immigrant women who worked in Edmonton's GWG clothing factory over its 93-year history. The plant, founded in 1911 and closed in 2004, was a microcosm of immigration patterns in Alberta's cities, and tells a story of the urban immigrant women who are seldom portrayed in history books. Appearing with Dunn will be Shannon Johnson and Sharmila Mathur on the sitar.
Dunn has performed at union and political gatherings, fundraisers and concerts across Alberta and Canada, as well as in other parts of the world. She writes her own material, and has worked with Ground Zero Productions, Shannon Johnson and such writers as Catherine Cole to produce the concerts that will make up the 2012 Centennial Tour. (See Dunn's website at www.mariadunn.com)
Winston Gereluk, 2012 Celebrations Co-ordinator, 780-668-8119 firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Dunn, 780-430-8560