On March 31st, 1949, two minutes before midnight, Newfoundland
joined Confederation and became the tenth province of Canada.
On March 31st, 1999, Newfoundland celebrated the fiftieth
anniversary of joining Canada with Soiree '99, a gala event held
at Memorial Stadium, in the heart of St. John's.
It can be argued that Newfoundland boasts some of the most
talented performers in the cuntry. During the concert, audiences
were treated to a wide variety of entertainment. Musicians performed
a wide range of music from pop music, to folk, to opera. The
master of ceremonies for the evening was commentator and journalist
Rex Murphy, who continuously enthralled viewers with his amusing,
albeit sarcastic, humour.
The line-up for the event included a performance by popular
singer Kim Stockwood, who sang her brand-new single "12
years old" from the album of the same name. Jazz saxophone
player, John Nugent, came home from New York to perform in the
show. Felix and Formanger, a duo that includes a fantastic accordion
player, played a set of traditional tunes. The Spirit of Newfoundland
theatre troupe orchestrated a magnificent combination of Newfoundland
songs. The Newfoundland Divas - Joanne Hounsell, Sonya Gosse,
and Shelly Neville - received a standing ovation for their intricate
opera performance. The Irish Descendants had the crowd going
with their fabulous Newfoundland folk music.
The night continued with the reading of E. J. Pratt's "The
sea," and the beautiful and emotional performance by Phyllis
Morrissey of a song by the same name. The Sipujij Drummers and
Dancers of Conne River represented Newfoundland's native background.
Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellas performed a song from their
latest album entitled "Chocolate," followed by one
of their well-known comedy sketches.
Another group who stole the night were the Ennis Sisters,
who sang "If anything happened to you," and "Gettin'
Finally, Gordon Pinsent gave a moving speech, addressing the
life and times of Newfoundland, how we started, and who we are.
The Ennis Sisters
Needless to say, there was an extensive group of individuals
involved in the production of the event. One must not forget
the members of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, who accompanied
many of the performers for the night. The conductors included
Jim Duff, who also arranged the music played, and Peter Gardner.
After the gala performance, some of the artists talked about
the significance on Newfoundland's Confederation with Canada.
Brian Way, the pianist for the evening, responded, "I'm
glad I'm Canadian and I'm very happy to be here."
Kim Stockwood also commented on what it was like to be home.
"I love it. I love the people. It's like I have a secret.
That there's something so special about Newfound-land. No one
can describe it, no one knows what it is, but it is like no where
else in the world."
Check out an excerpt of Ians
interview with Kim Stockwood.