Award-winning singer-songwriter Jackie Sullivan taps into her Fiery Hockey Blood for a song that hits close to home
There are passion projects and then there’s Fiery Hockey Blood, an anthem that for seasoned singer-songwriter Jackie Sullivan is more testament to passion, grit and a true blue unbreakable love than it is a game attempt at single streams and record sales.
Southern shore strong
The profound love of the ultra-Canadian game of hockey is anything but lost on us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. For those like Sullivan, who calls the Southern Shore home, hockey is as much religion as it is an after-school spectacle.
“Hockey has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Sullivan shared with The Herald. “It was huge in our house and huge on the Southern Shore. It was almost sacred. I mean, it was a given that there would always be a game. And it’s hard to describe it. That analogy to religion is a very good one, but it’s always been such an integral part of our culture on the Southern Shore and our life and a part of our communities. It’s really representative of who we are.”
The relationship between Sullivan’s father Gerard and Southern Shore hockey legend Kenny Williams served as the impetus for Fiery Hockey Blood.
The good ol’hockey game served as the catalyst of recovery and reigniting personal joys for Gerald following a series of health events in 2018. That bond between Sullivan and Williams – and the very foundations of the game that provide lifelong memories for so many – go beyond the wide world of sports.
Never back down
“When I think back to my memories I think back on Flatrock and Badger and I mean, those teams had fire. And I guess it brought me to a place where when I was watching Dad and Kenny and how they’ve lived their life amidst their health issues, it was really parallel with the game,” Sullivan shares.
“The chorus of this song is about always giving 100 per cent even in the face of adversity. It’s about never back down, go hard or go home spirit. This ain’t no place for giving up. And so they have approached life in the same way they’ve approached the game. I didn’t want this song to be a sad song because they would never want that. And that’s not who we are. Yes, we’re gracious in the face of defeat, but we rise again.”
Sullivan didn’t skimp when it came to hitting close to home for the video of Fiery Hockey Blood. Local hockey legends Bob Cole, Ryane Clowe and Andy Sullivan make appearances in the Roger Maunder directed video – a single that also features A-list collaborators including Shanneyganock frontman Chris Andrews, Peter Daniel Newman, Karla Pilgrim and Cory Tetford.
“There wasn’t a minute’s hesitation when I asked a question if they were willing to participate,” Sullivan shared proudly of her collaborators.
“I explained the details of what I wanted to do and what my vision was for the project, and they all immediately said yes. And I mean, there are so many others that were instrumental and were part of shooting this music video. So many kids, so many other adults from the Southern Shore who are integral members of our community and of our hockey culture.”
A legendary call
Sullivan paused for a moment to reflect on one particularly emotional moment of the process. The addition of all-time sports legend Bob Cole, delivering flawless commentary of a 1994 Herder championship series at the Southern Shore Arena between the Southern Shore Breakers and the La Scie Jets in Fiery Hockey Blood, still seems surreal to the MusicNL winning artist.
“In my mind, this was truly the making of history,” Sullivan shared proudly of Cole’s involvement. “I picked out a goal and I gave the details to Bob and I said I want you to call this goal just like you would in the NHL and you should have seen him doing that. He was meticulous about the information and he’s so incredibly professional … To have Bob Cole calling a play that involves Andy Sullivan and Billy Windsor and the Southern Shore Breakers from the 1990s. It will never again happen.”
Hometown hockey love
The leadup to the single release included a fine bit of serendipity, with Sullivan and a crew of kiddos from her home community featured on Rogers Hometown Hockey with Ron Maclean and Tara Slone.
And while that added boost of publicity and civic pride is surely savoured, Sullivan’s true pleasure comes from the promotion and homage paid to the sport that binds her community, one that hopefully resonates with fans coast to coast that tap into their own hometown hockey love.
“From my perspective, hockey is something that builds character, builds confidence, builds perseverance and determination. It builds our ability to be gracious in the face of defeat, because we’re not going to win them all, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try,” Sullivan says.
“My dad and Kenny were of the perspective that when you go out there on the ice, you give 110 per cent every single time. And this ain’t no exhibition game. That profound story, I feel will resonate with the people of the Southern Shore and the people of the province and people across this country.”
“I’ve tried really hard to hit on the pulse of that fire, that grit your teeth fire, that we live and breathe still to this day,” Sullivan adds. “And while it’s a legacy of how I grew up, it’s a legacy that is still alive and well among the younger kids. But it’s also a story that I always want them to remember and never, ever
For more on Sullivan and Fiery Hockey Blood visit jackiesullivanmusic.com