MUSIC | 45th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival: Digital Edition

Our friends at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society are giving fans of a taste of the 45th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival with a digital edition, available to stream on-demand from October 18 – 31, 2021. The full press release is available below!

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The 45th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival: Digital Edition presented by Equinor is now streaming on-demand at

Following a summer season of over 25 live performances in St. John’s, the digital edition of the festival will bring Newfoundland and Labrador artists to audiences near and far.

“Because our summer events had such limited audience capacity, we wanted to make sure there was an opportunity for everyone, everywhere to participate in the festival, so we are excited to present this digital programme for all to enjoy .”

— Anna Brophy, President, Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society

The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival is presented by Equinor Canada, and works with local community partners such as DanceNL, Le Réseau Culturel Francophone du Terre-Neuve et Labrador, First Light Friendship Centre, and St. John’s African Roots Festival to present a diverse lineup of traditional and folk music, dance, and storytelling.

The 45th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival: Digital Edition is made up of five episodes each focusing on one of the following themes; Songs, Strings, Dance, Accordion, and Percussion. An additional episode for the kids will also be available. Featured artists include Duane Andrews and Andrew Dale, Tonya Kearley-Russell and Kelly Russell, Youngtree and Carole Bee, Billy Sutton, Frank Fusari, Kilautiup Songuninga (Strength of the Drum), Jim Payne, and more.

The episodes are now streaming on-demand on the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society’s website, and Youtube Channel until October 31, 2021. The series is available free of charge, but charitable donations are graciously accepted at

Episode Details:

The Kids’ Episode – Kat and Sal, Your Indigenous Pals

This episode is for the young and young at heart. As young indigenous girls living in an urban city, Kat and her best friend Sal explore their friendship with one another through the sharing of their cultures. Sharing a passion for oral traditions, these two friends provide an interactive experience through rhymes, songs and stories from their Southern Inuit and Mi’kmaq cultures.

The Accordion Episode

This episode focuses on the accordion, a staple of traditional music in many cultures. Billy Sutton will share a few of his original tunes inspired by traditional styles of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond, from his latest album “Not a word”. We’ll hear some more traditional tunes from Juliette Mini and her teacher Fergus Brown-O’Byrne, then from Shana and Dillon Brown, an accomplished brother and sister duo from Whiteway, Trinity Bay. Finally, Frank Fusari will play us out with accordion music in French, Spanish, and Italian styles. Thanks to our friends at O’Briens music for recording this episode at their shop on Water Street here in St. John’s.

The Dance Episode

This episode is presented in partnership with DanceNL and focuses on some traditional dances found in Newfoundland and Labrador. We begin with Fancy Shawl dancing from Rebecca Sharr and Kayla Stride. Then we’ll take a tour through Irish and Scottish step dancing and finish up with a group of Scottish Country Dancers.

The Percussion Episode

This episode looks at three very different percussion traditions. We start with the Inuit drum and dance group, Strength of the Drum. Then, Tonya Kearley-Russell will introduce you to her Jumping Jacks, a cross between a puppet and a percussion instrument, accompanied by Kelly Russell. Finally, Curtis Andrews will explain and demonstrate the mridangam (Mi-rit’-dung-gum), a hand drum from India.

The Songs Episode

We’ll open this song-centric episode with Summer Bennet, the winner of this year’s MusicNL Talent Contest. Then we’ll hear traditional throat singing from the Inuit Throat Singing Collective. We’ll spend some time with Jim Payne, who was presented with the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award this summer. Then we’ll hear from Lorna Lovell, a singer-songwriter from Newfoundland’s West Coast. Finally, Ruth Lawrence will tell you about Elizabeth Greenleaf and Grace Mansfield, who travelled the province in the 1920s collecting and transcribing traditional folk songs.

The Strings Episode

This episode is all about string instruments. We’ll start with a set from Duane Andrews and Andrew Dale. Then Brian Cherwick will take you on a tour of some traditional Ukrainian string instruments. We’ll have a swinging set from Peter Youngtree and Carole Bestvater, before closing with Portage, a group with members from Canada and the United States, including Newfoundland’s own Jean Hewson and Christina Smith.

Further details can be found on the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society’s website and social media channels (@nlfolk on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). 


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