Like many other locals who’ve moved away, Kim Stockwood says she has an invisible elastic band around her when it comes to Newfoundland. “I’ve never truthfully gotten too far away from home, wherever I’ve been,” she explained.
Stockwood is coming “Back to the Water” this weekend — and bringing CMT viewers with her with a television program based on her love of her home province.
Stockwood moved away from home 18 years ago to pursue a career as a musician out of Toronto. Since then, she has released three solo CDs and two CDs with the trio Shaye, been nominated for two Junos and multiple East Coast Music Awards, has had her music featured on TV shows like “Dawson’s Creek,” and has hosted morning radio shows.
On Saturday, “Back to the Water,” a one-hour documentary program inspired by her album of the same name, due to be released on Tuesday, will air on CMT.
“A year and a half ago, I had a couple little ideas for a TV show,” Stockwood said. “My manager and I had a meeting, fleshed them out, and then got a meeting with the head of CMT, and we went in. My second show idea was a show about Newfoundland, about why it is that we long for it so much, what makes it special in a general sense and from my personal perspective as someone who moved away for my career and ended up staying away for a long time.
“We pitched it and the president said, ‘Yep, that’s great, we’ll do that.’ We walk out and (my manager) is like, ‘Wow, I think we just got a TV show. You better get this record done.’”
The TV program features Stockwood singing songs from her “Back to the Water” CD, with guest appearances by Seamus O’Regan and Allan Hawco. Stockwood sings the “Ode to Newfoundland” with her Shaye bandmate, Damhnait Doyle, and is shown performing with Ron Hynes at the Duke of Duckworth.
The program also takes Stockwood to Carbonear, and the home of her 97-year-old grandmother, who plays the pump organ. Her father is featured, too, playing his button accordion in the backyard of the home where he grew up.
“I didn’t want it to be about the record, per se — it’s more about the beauty of Newfoundland. They shot it beautifully, and it really looks stunning. Maybe they’ll send it out with the tourism ads,” Stockwood said with a laugh. “I really think it does Newfoundland proud.”
As for the “Back to the Water” CD, the title track is Stockwood’s only original song on it — the rest are tunes she’s been singing since she was a child, including “Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s,” “Squid Jiggin’ Ground,” “Feller From Fortune” and “Petty Harbour Bait Skiff.” Also included are two Hynes songs: “St. John’s Waltz” and “Atlantic Blue.”
“He’s kind of my current modern-day folk-songwriter hero,” Stockwood said of Hynes. “Obviously his songs are the newest on the CD, next to my original, but I think in 500 years, his songs will be like ‘Cape St. Mary’s.’ On a simple level, I just love to sing his songs, and I really could have recorded a whole bunch more.”
Recorded in St. John’s over most of last year (Stockwood went back and forth between here and Toronto), the CD features a huge number of some of the province’s most talented musicians, from a variety of genres: Sandy Morris, Duane Andrews, Bill Brennan, Chris LeDrew, Josh Ward (of Hey Rosetta!) and Theo Weber, to name just a few. The Once (Andrew Dale, Geraldine Hollett and Phil Churchill) sing with Stockwood on “When I’m 64,” and The Dardanelles (Matthew Byrne, Tom Power, Aaron Collis, Emilia Bartellas and Rich Klaas) play with her on “Feller From Fortune.” Doyle sings the “Ode” with Stockwood on the record like she does in the TV program.
Stockwood’s father, Leslie, performs on the CD, too, playing his accordion on “Thank God We’re Surrounded by Water.”
Stockwood admits she had to twist his arm to do it.
“There were a few rum involved, for sure,” she said, laughing. “He’s not shy, he just doesn’t play as much anymore. He was kind of like, ‘You’ve got all those professional players on that record now. Are you sure? You don’t want me in there, I don’t even know if I could play a note.’”
Ask her why she’s releasing an album of traditional Newfoundland tunes at this point in her career, and Stockwood, acknowledging that she’s come full circle, says it’s just the way it was meant to be.
“I took a couple years off singing, and I don’t know if I really thought I was done singing for good, but I felt like I was getting pulled further and further away from what I was doing,” she said. “Throughout your life, as you get older, there’s more urgency in things, and you never know what’s going to happen. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m over 40— the chances of me getting on commercial radio these days, even if I were to do the dance remix of ‘Feller From Fortune,’ are slim.
“It’s incredible to make a record for no other reason than for love, truthfully.”
The TV program “Back to the Water” airs on CMT Saturday evening at 7:30. Stockwood’s CD of the same name, released digitally earlier this week, will be available in stores Tuesday.