On Cape Breton Island, where coal mining and steel making were once an essential part of the region’s culture and economy, protest song and verse are found in abundance. The Protest Song Project is an initiative of The Centre for Cape Breton Studies at Cape Breton University. The program’s goal is to preserve and promote the protest songs and verse that represent the region’s rich industrial heritage. The Centre has been collaborating with local musicians to record many of the songs that were published in the Maritime Labour Herald, a newspaper of the 1920s, that includes both local and international compositions. These songs played an important role in the labour struggles of the 1920s and are an unexplored aspect of Cape Breton’s labour heritage. This is a truly interactive, collaborative and community-minded project. This website is supported by audio tracks that can be purchased by clicking the “Buy” link above.
Cape Breton Island Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
This is part two of a program to preserve, promote and make available the steel, mining and protest songs of the region. It tells stories about the struggles to survive strikes and hard times, the courage of workers wives, the fight by trade unionists and the oppression of international company owners.
In 2012, the Centre released the CD “Cape Breton Island Protest Songs, Volume 1” along with an accompanying web site (www.protestsongs.ca). It was also a collaboration between MacKinnon and Cape Breton musicians to record songs that were originally published in Cape Breton newspapers such as the Maritime Labour Herald, The Steelworker and the Steelworker and Miner from the 1920s through to the 1950s. MacKinnon found the words and the musicians created the arrangements and music.
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