Maria Dunn | Piece By Piece

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Folk: Political Folk World: World Fusion Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Piece By Piece

by Maria Dunn

A tribute to immigrant women working at a Canadian clothing factory over its 93-year history (1911 – 2004) with musical inflections and instrumentation that evoke the countries of origin (Italy, India, Vietnam, Ukraine) of the women who inspired the songs
Genre: Folk: Political Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. I Cannot Tell You (The Whole Story)
4:31 album only
2. Speed Up
2:55 album only
3. Blue Lung
3:15 album only
4. Assunta's Song
4:13 album only
5. Shareholders' Reel
3:42 album only
6. Immigrant Dreams
3:46 album only
7. Lullaby
2:52 album only
8. Farewell
4:03 album only


Album Notes
A true preserver of the spirit of folk music, Maria Dunn ( is often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. With her new CD, Piece By Piece (2012), Maria pays tribute to immigrant women who worked at a Western Canadian clothing factory over its 93-year history (1911 – 2004). Locally inspired, the songs are universal in theme—immigration, family, striving for a better life. Stylistically, Maria’s previous four recordings have melded North American roots music with influences from her Scottish-Irish heritage. With Piece By Piece, Maria adds musical inflections and instrumentation that evoke the countries of origin (Italy, India, Vietnam, Ukraine) of the women who inspired the songs.

Maria originally wrote these songs for the multimedia show GWG: Piece By Piece, a live performance developed in collaboration with videographer Don Bouzek (Ground Zero Productions) and historian Catherine C. Cole. The show weaves video footage and interviews with women who worked at Edmonton’s Great Western Garment (GWG) Company with music reflecting their experiences. Maria: “Many of the women who worked at the factory were new immigrants or refugees and this was one of their first jobs in Canada. In telling their story, we tell the story of the waves of immigration to Western Canada, the story of working mothers and the story of globalization.”

Distributed in Canada by Outside Music, Piece by Piece is Maria Dunn’s fifth independent recording, produced by Shannon Johnson (Juno award winner with The McDades for 2007’s Bloom). Guest musicians include: Shannon Johnson (violin), Ojas Joshi (tabla, percussion), Michael Lent (upright bass), Sharmila Mathur (sitar), and Jeremiah McDade (bansuri, whistles).

The eight songs on Piece By Piece range from “I Cannot Tell You”, a poignant description of one refugee’s loneliness, to “Speed Up”, an exuberant call-and-response work song. “Blue Lung” hauntingly commemorates a worker who died of lung disease, while “Shareholders’ Reel” sparkles with the humour and tenacity of a union negotiator – with a nod to Ukrainian dance music. The recording finishes with “Farewell”, a sitar, tabla and string-fueled homage to the women’s friendship and community, even as their workplace is closed.

Media accolades for Piece By Piece include: #4 on Penguin Eggs “Albums of the Year for 2012”; #15 on CKUA Radio (Alberta) Top 100 CDs for 2012; #30 on Top 100 for 2012 - Galaxie Folk/Roots (Canada) Charts for 2012

Maria’s four previous independent CDs include: The Peddler (Nominee - 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award), 2004’s We Were Good People (a concept album exploring the vibrant people’s history of Western Canada), For A Song (Nominee - 2002 Juno Award), and From Where I Stand (Nominee – 1999 Prairie Music Award), all produced by Shannon Johnson.

• An arrestingly powerful singer-songwriter who writes great historical and social commentary. - WFMT Chicago
• …remarkable singer-songwriter, think of her as a distaff Woody Guthrie. - Edmonton Sun
• …exquisite album exploring North America's colorful and often troubled heritage. - Performing Songwriter
• Smart, compelling songs...timeless resonance. - Edmonton Journal
• ...this is history come alive. Her lyrics are sharp and poignant... - Sunday Edition, CBC Radio
• Dunn's music is both Celtic and Canadian--and, of course, uniquely her own. - Dirty Linen
• She’s assured, strong, and her versatile voice carries her songs straight to the head and heart. - Sing Out!
• Maria Dunn remains one of the few songwriters in Canada to document the lives of ordinary working people. Piece By Piece, [is] her profoundly moving latest recording… - Penguin Eggs Magazine
• …one of this year’s folk music masterpieces. - Folk Roots / Folk Branches
• There’s a great history of labour songs in folk music, but Dunn’s Piece By Piece takes it to another level. - Edmonton Journal

Maria performs (solo, duo, trio) at theatres, folk clubs, conferences and festivals across Canada, in the USA (Smithsonian Folk Life Festival) and Europe (Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland; Netherlands Tour). She has been featured on Canadian TV, CBC National Radio, CKUA Alberta Radio, BBC Radio Scotland, and her original songs published in Sing Out! and Penguin Eggs. Other artists, including Niamh Parsons, The Outside Track and Bob Bossin, have recorded her original songs.


Award Nominations: 2013 Independent Music Awards nominee – Concept Album; 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee – Solo Artist of the Year (The Peddler); 2009 USA Songwriting Competition Honourable Mention (The Peddler); 2002 JUNO nominee - Roots/Traditional Solo (For A Song); 1999 Prairie Music nominee - Outstanding Songwriter (From Where I Stand)

International Festivals: 2008 Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland; 2006 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Washington, DC; 2000 Visagino Country Festival, Lithuania

Canadian Folk Festivals: Main Stage: Edmonton (AB); Lunenberg (NS); Summerfolk (ON); Mission (BC); Stanfest (NS); Frostbite (YK); Canmore (AB); Side Stages: Vancouver, Comox, Powell River (BC); Calgary, Edmonton (AB); Winnipeg (MB); Mariposa, Ottawa (ON)

TV: The Carol Project (Bravo TV, Canada); Huron Carole 2002, Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary (CMT); Voice of America (Washington, DC); Mac-TV (Scotland); Alberta Primetime (CTVtwo, Alberta)

Radio Features: BBC Radio Scotland, Travelling Folk (Scotland); WFMT Folkstage (Chicago); Folkscene (Los Angeles); Bound For Glory (Ithaca, NY); KVMR (Nevada City, CA); CBC Canada Live (Canada); CBC Sunday Edition (Canada); CBC This Morning (Canada); CBC DNTO (Canada); CBC Key of A (AB); CKUA The Celtic Show (AB); CiTR (Vancouver)

Discography: 2012 - Piece By Piece; 2008 - The Peddler; 2004 - We Were Good People; 2001 - For A Song; 1998 - From Where I Stand; Compilations: 2006 - Alberta: Wild Roses, Northern Lights (Smithsonian Folkways); 2004 - Songs of the Christmas Carol Project

Other Projects: GWG: Piece by Piece multimedia show; Troublemakers, Working Albertans, 1900 – 1950 multimedia show; 2008 Pacific Northwest Labour History Conference; 2001 Artist-in-Residence, Edmonton Labour Council; Song Commissions: CBC Radio “Canada Reads” (2007); Public Interest Alberta (2009); Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (2006); Edmonton Trades & Labour Council 100th Anniversary (2006); Alberta Federation of Labour 100th Anniversary (2012)



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