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Music has long been a vital part of the Island Way of Life. Between community ceilidhs and house parties, Island music-makers have kept feet and hearts tapping and humming throughout Prince Edward Island, Canada, and the world.

Richard Wood is an Island dynamo whose traditional jigs, reels, and strathspeys are bringing audiences to their feet in concerts and festivals across Canada, the United States, and the United Richard WoodKingdom. He has twice earned the Don Messer Memorial Trophy for top Maritime fiddler and, in 1998, he won an East Coast Music Award for Roots/Traditional Instrumental. He had previously been nominated for Male Artist of the Year and Instrumental Artist. He has also won innumerable step dancing and fiddling championships. In 1998, Wood made guest appearances with Canadian county music star Shania Twain on David Letterman and Good Morning America and he has performed on Parliament Hill as well as on Rita McNeil and Friends. Worldwide popularity aside, Wood remains an Island favourite, never failing to fill local venues when he plays at home.

Stompin’ Tom Connors is considered a “home-grown” talent since spending a few years in foster care in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island. Before beginning his music career, Connors spent Stompin' Tom years hitchhiking across the country and working on coal boats, in tobacco fields, in rubber factories, and as a lumberjack. Over the last 30 years, this patriotic Canadian country-folk singer has released 39 albums. Stompin’ Tom’s songs encompass a wide range of issues, places, and people from his unique perspective of a regular, hard-working Canadian. In addition to his numerous Juno awards, Connors has been recognized by Prince Edward Island’s Minister of Agriculture who, in 1970, awarded the performer a gold-plated spud in recognition of his song “Bud the Spud.”

An unsung hero of Canadian music, Gene MacLellan (1940–1995) wrote two of the best known,Gene MacLellanbest loved songs in popular music: “Snowbird” (1970) and “Put Your Hand in the Hand” (1971). “Snowbird” earned MacLellan a 1970 Juno for composer of the year. He has also recorded his own albums, including Gene MacLellan, If It’s Alright with You, and Gene & Marty. “Put Your Hand in the Hand” has become a standard of gospel repertoire, recorded by more than 100 artists, including Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Bing Crosby, and Count Basie. MacLellan has received PRO Canada’s William Harold Moon Award (1987) for international achievement and was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Honour in 1995.
To listen to “Put Your Hand in the Hand” click on icon. Music Clef

A prominent East Coast singer/songwriter, Lennie Gallant has earned numerous awards and nominations from both the Junos and the East Coast Music Association. Gallant’s resonant voice and passionate, poetic lyrics recounting dramatic stories have earned him international recognition. Indeed, his “roots-rock” songs, written in both English and French, have been recorded by artists throughout North America and Europe. In addition to his music tours, Lennie Gallant’s work with human rights groups has taken him to places such as Europe, Guatemala, Mexico, the Middle East, and the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another Canadian icon and promoter of Canadian bilingual culture, Angèle Arsenault was born in Abram-Village, Prince Edward Island, in 1943. She lived there until the age of twenty, in a home filled with music, singing, and her father’s great fiddle-playing. She has travelled across the country, sponsored by Parks Canada and the federal government singing French Canadian folk music. Arsenault has also been a television host and has recorded numerous albums in both English and French. Her music and performances are characterized as comic, satirical, feminist, poetic, and always entertaining.

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