STELLARTON – Song wasn’t strong in the school system when Lennie Gallant was a child. He wishes it had been, if only to make it easier while he taught himself to read and write music at 12 years old.
The Prince Edward Island native has been promoting it for children for many years, he said, during his songwriting and performing career.
“For some people, music is so important as a means of expression,” he said during an interview about his upcoming show with local school choirs. “I’ve personally seen a lot of kids who are bottled up in their emotions and feelings sometimes, and suddenly they’re able to play an instrument and they’re able to express themselves in that way. That becomes an important part of their lives.”
Gallant began teaching himself when he received his first guitar on the cusp of his teenage years, learning to strum a few chords and put together melodies.
His songs weren’t great, he said, but creating came naturally.
His mother’s creativity helped as an inspiration, performing her own short plays in the community. His discovery of artists such as Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan only strengthened that.
Still, he wishes he hadn’t had to work against his lack of musical instruction.
“Music is such an important part of our lives. It should be taught in schools and the tools should definitely be given to kids to understand it better.”
Luckily for the Canadian musical landscape, Gallant turned out to be a talented teacher for himself and has become one of the country’s most iconic songwriters.
Many of his works feature P.E.I., and will be the focus of a 45-show series at The Mack this summer as part of the Charlottetown Festival.
The multi-media show called Searching for Abegweit is meant to showcase the island in both modern day and historic times.
“Abegweit is the original Mi’kmaq name for P.E.I.,” he explained. “(The show) is kind of a showcase of my songs and stories that are either based on or set on P.E.I. 2014 is a big year for P.E.I.,” he said, referring to the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.
He noted that some of the songs featured in those shows are legends and history that P.E.I. shares with Nova Scotia, such as Scottish settlements and the phantom ship of the Northumberland Strait.
It will also show off some of Gallant’s new material as well as artwork from his sister, Karen.
Before those shows running from the end of June until the end of August, he will be in Stellarton on May 8 at the Nova Scotia Community College, performing with Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School and A.G. Baillie Memorial School choirs.
Gallant will do his own set, as well as perform a few songs with the children such as “Peter’s Dream.”
The concert is to raise funds for Frank H. MacDonald’s music program, as well as to give the students a chance to learn from Gallant.
Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children, starting at 7 p.m.
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