Be Still is Marilyn MacDonald-MacKinnon's new CD release
-by John Gillis
“Marilyn MacDonald-MacKinnon also has a new CD out. Be Still, a 12-cut recording of spiritual music from a wide variety of composers, was just (recently) released. I haven’t yet heard the final, finished copy, but I did have a chance to listen to some of the material before it went to be pressed. I was impressed, but I really shouldn’t have been as Marilyn has a wonderful voice which seems to be getting better as the years go by.” – Dan MacDonald, Cape Breton Post.
While Marilyn MacDonald-MacKinnon’s new recording, Be Still, is her second CD, it’s her first in some time. It was 1991 when her first recording was released.
“That was a very different recording which reflected some of the more traditional music I was performing with my family at that time,” Marilyn told The Oran this week.
The new CD is dedicated to the memory of three people who meant a lot to her. Her mother (Anne MacDonald), her father-in-law (Peter MacKinnon), and fellow musician Dave McKeough, who also contributed electric guitar, mandolin and dobro tracks before his untimely passing last summer in an automobile accident.
Marilyn says her mother was a driving force for the whole MacDonald musical family in Westmount.
“She was a fiddler herself and a big supporter of us and many others as musicians and a promoter too of the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association,” said Marilyn.
The CD was recorded at Lakewind Sound Studio by Fred Lavery and Mike Shepherd.
The title of the recording comes from the track on the recording called Be Still My Soul – a song Marilyn learned from a recording by Amy Grant.
The opening track of the CD is called Surrender, and Marilyn first heard that song from a recording of a Christian rock band called Barlow Girl.
“They had so many great songs, and I had a hard time choosing just one for this recording. I could really relate to its lyrics. I guess I would describe the CD as a Christian recording rather than a gospel recording,” said MacDonald-MacKinnon.
There are certainly some well-known classic Christian and spiritual numbers featured on the recording including: Ave Maria; Nearer, My God, To Thee; How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. However, there are also some lesser known songs that Marilyn has chosen including a rockin’ version of Believe in You written by Amanda Marshall.
“People had always encouraged me to sing Ave Maria, and I hesitated to do it for some time until I felt I was ready. It was my sister Cheryl who finally convinced me that I should include it on the recording. I sang How Great Thou Art a lot in the choir. It’s a powerful hymn, but I wanted to record it with a contemporary feel. I love Carrie Underwood’s version of it, and I really like what Howie and Fred contributed on the track,” she added.
Vocalist L.J. MacLean is featured on Our Great God.
“L.J. is a friend of mine with a great voice. We did dinner theatre together. It’s a very powerful song,” said Marilyn.
Marilyn also records a Gordie Sampson song called Jerusalem that she heard from Fred Lavery which had previously been recorded by the group, Four for the Lord.
Other musicians featured on this recording include drummer Brian Talbot; bass player Fred Lavery; brother Howie MacDonald on piano, fiddle and backing vocals; pianists Debbie Keating and Adam Young; keyboardist, backing vocalist and accordion player Stephen Muise and backing vocalist Jenn Sheppard.
Track 12 of the CD also features Marilyn’s “little brother” Howie MacDonald on fiddle playing a beautiful composition called Ships Anthem which was written by Phil Cunningham.
MacDonald-MacKinnon says she had a great response for the CD to date, even though she hasn’t promoted it much as yet.
There’s a great range of interpretation to the chosen songs. Her vocals and the studio production are impeccable and demonstrate the great range of vocal range Marilyn has picked up over the years by playing in choirs and country, jazz and rock and roll bands.
The CD can be found locally at Mabou Freshmart.
Marilyn says she intends to get copies out to several other stores in western Cape Breton in the coming weeks, and she hopes to have a CD release date to announce sometime this spring.
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