Feature

Rodney Brown has The Gift

A son of Thunder Bay, Rodney Brown has built a career singing roots, rock, reggae, and kids songs, exploring sounds and recording albums that reflect each phase in turn.

But when he began to explore the history of his hometown, the onetime Fort William, Rodney Brown found the “one warm line” that moves through Canadian history, into legend, art and myth.

The fur trade, the exploration of the west, the alliances and betrayals among English, French, and First Nations emerged and took full form in Rodney’s remarkable album, The Big Lonely, produced by his longtime friend and mentor Ian Tamblyn. The same cast of compelling Canadian characters and their stories have remained important themes in Rodney Brown’s latest album, North Land, produced by Paul Mills.

Rodney’s songs now take him to National Parks, Native Reserves, historical sites, libraries and festivals across the country, and as far away as the British Isles, to tell the tales that form the framework of our history. Even as he travels he retains a quintessentially Northern Ontario sound: by turns celebratory and haunting, always echoing the voice of the voyageurs.

And wherever he goes, Rodney Brown displays what one Scottish listener called The Gift —the ability to transfix an audience with stories in song.

Watch exclusive Woodshed Sessions performances of Rodney’s songs The Big Lonely, (YouTube) What Would Susan Say & Into The Woods (Vimeo). You may also watch the unedited conversation between David Newland and Rodney Brown.

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