It was really good to see Jim Payne and Fergus O’Byrne visiting schools in the Coast of Bays in mid-November in conjunction with the provincial Department of Education’s Cultural Touring program.
If you don’t know, Jim Payne is a member of that elite group of Newfoundlanders who have worked hard to keep Newfoundland culture, folklore and music alive for at least the past twenty years.
Payne has been long known as a leading performer and collector of Newfoundland traditional music. He is also a profile songwriter, and his most famous song ‘Wave Over Wave’ has been translated into a number of languages.
In the past several years Payne, and his buddy Fergus O’Byrne, has taken our folklore and culture around the world as they have toured Northern Ireland, the eastern seaboard of the Unites States, Australia and in several European countries.
Payne also owns and operates his own recording label, SingSong Inc., which has released 25 titles, and produces special event programming for conferences, conventions, festivals and other celebrations, and educational and historical events featuring traditional and contemporary music, song, story ideas and dance that reflect the Newfoundland experience.
Payne is now in that elite group of Newfoundland artists who have successfully brought Newfoundland and Labrador music, folklore and history to the masses - a group that includes such people as Pamela Morgan, Anita Best, Bud Davidge, Emile Benoit, Rufus Ginchard and many, many others.
Payne is also a great storyteller and does some fun recitations of works by popular and not-so-popular Newfoundlanders.
Overall, he’s a wonderful singer and performer who loves our culture and has done his part to keep it alive and vibrant.
Payne told a great story at King Academy during his visit to Harbour Breton and had the students’ rapt attention as only Jim Payne can when telling a story. He did a great recitation at St. Joseph’s on Saturday night, November 19 of a poem entitled ‘Winter’ that was written by a fellow Newfoundlander.
And thanks to Payne, and many others, Memorial University now has a Folklore Department with a key aim of keeping our unique lifestyle and traditions alive. Memorial is the only Anglophone university in Canada to offer comprehensive folklore programs at all levels.
As Payne himself says, what we once called foolishness is now called folklore and is studied at MUN. As a matter of fact, people from all over the world come to MUN to study in its folklore department and go on to teach at universities and colleges in many parts of North America and Europe.
When someone in the future writes about the development and growth in the interest in Newfoundland culture in the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st century, they will have to include a number of paragraphs on the work that Jim Payne has done.
And rightly so.