In Conversation with The Once’s Geraldine Hollett

In Conversation with The Once’s Geraldine Hollett

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The Once’s lead vocalist Geraldine Hollett reflects on the band’s much celebrated past, their amazing present, and their highly anticipated future

The band The Once, with Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale, have had quite a career. From their award-winning self-titled debut to 2011’s Row Upon Row of the People They Know to their latest, Time Enough, there’s been much to celebrate. 

The Newfoundland-based band has collected multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards, been named Newfoundland & Labrador Art Council’s Artist of the Year and earned a Juno nomination for best Roots/Traditional album, and with MusicNL and East Coast Music Awards to boot, there’s little doubt The Once won’t be fading (‘rackly or otherwise) into the musical background anytime soon. 

While COVID slowed things down a tad, this trad-based trio have stuck it out, including multiple performances in  Dubai during February of this year for that city’s hosting of World Expo. 

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“It was quite an adventure, but it was also a bit strange. One minute you can’t leave your house (due to pandemic restrictions) then all of a sudden, you’re a world traveler,” Hollett opened.

With such a busy schedule, we asked if they had much time to explore Dubai while they were there. 

Exploring Abu Dhabi

“We had eight shows in five days, so it’s pretty intense, but we also got to do two shows in Abu Dhabi, so that was great for exploring.”

One show was in a bar where smoking was still permitted, she continued, chuckling. “The world has changed so much, so that felt a little like being back  in the 90s. It was really strange, but also very fabulous as you really grasp the fact that you are exploring again and we got to see how vast the desert is. It’s amazing. There’s like a city and then nothing. And then a city and then nothing. It’s just pretty wild.” 

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The Once started playing together in the town of Trinity, before they even had a name, she continued. 

“About 2007 we got a name and then we really started traveling,”  she said.

Besides a global shut down, they haven’t stopped since. The Once will be performing at home for the NL Folk Festival (July 9th,) plus there’s shows in Ottawa and throughout Europe throughout the summer. Then there’s a slew of shows booked as they sail through the following fall and winter. 

We asked about the value of programs like OZFM’s Jigs & Reels when it comes to sharing the traditional side of their music, like their celebrated version of By The Glow of The Kerosene Light.  

“It’s pretty powerful. We got everything that’s good from traditional methods (Irish music) and then we try to make it our own. The music is pretty powerful as listeners can really feel it and understand the music and understand the storytelling behind the song,” she said. 

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Reflecting on how things have gone over the last two years, Hollett said, like many artists, they simple held true to their vision. “We’re all very supportive of one another in the music industry here in Newfoundland. It’s really nice, I got to say, to feel that everybody feels pure joy and bliss or whatever it is to get back on stage.”

For more, including tour dates and album info, visit www.theonce.ca 

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Pam is the Managing Editor of The Newfoundland Herald. As the mother of two, she proudly writes about a life lived simply at home on 'The Rock.' When not interviewing or writing about NL's finest, Pam can be found spending her time in the great Newfoundland outdoors.

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