The phrase Edmonton singer and songwriter Maria Dunn uses to describe her approach to music is “A storyteller through song” and we think it describes her work to a T. For example, Maria’s 2004 project, We Were Good People, explores the stories of working people in Western Canada — tales of resilience and hope through experiences of immigration, internment, exploitation and The Great Depression. 2012’s Piece By Piece tells the stories of immigrant women who worked in Edmonton’s GWG clothing factory over its 93 year history. Both collections of songs were transformed into multi-media shows that Maria toured extensively. Storyteller through song, indeed.
The song “When I Was Young” appears on Maria’s latest (JUNO-nominated) album Gathering. It was inspired by Dorothy McDonald-Hyde of Fort MacKay First Nation in Northern Alberta. And it’s a fine example of Maria being inspired by the stories of ordinary people and their extraordinary stories and then spinning those stories into songs. This performance features Maria with long-times musical partners Shannon Johnson and Jeremiah McDade.
Not surprisingly, in choosing the songs for her Mixtape, Maria brings us other storytellers and interpreters of great songs, many of them reflecting the progressive ideas and social consciousness that have driven Maria’s own work for 20 years.
Maria’s playlist also includes the following tracks not on Spotify:
Tim O’Brien – “Foreign Lander”
Sweet Honey In The Rock – “Testimony“
Willie Dunn – “Charlie Wenjack”