Kelly Russell to receive Order of Canada

Published on May 5, 2014
Fiddler Kelly Russell is being recognized with an Order of Canada for his role in helping to preserve Newfoundland music and folklore. — Telegram file photo

Receiving the Order of Canada instils not so much a feeling of having accomplished something important, says musician Kelly Russell — he gets that every time he hears young musicians playing the music he works hard to preserve.

“I think it’s the satisfaction of knowing that my accomplishment is recognized at the highest level in the country, that it is of national significance as well as local,” he says.

 “And that Newfoundland culture and music is considered to be a valuable Canadian asset.”

 Ceremony Wednesday

Russell, a former member of Figgy Duff and the Wonderful Grand Band, will be at Ottawa’s

Rideau Hall Wednesday to receive the Order of Canada, which Gov.-Gen. David Johnston will present to 45 people.

Russell’s citation from Rideau Hall says he has been instrumental in preserving Newfoundland’s traditional folklore and music.

“A musician himself, he sought out master fiddlers to learn from them and record their unique music, which he then notated and published.

“His publication of over 500 fiddle tunes has ensured generations to come will have access to their musical heritage.”

Russell attended the Order of Canada investiture ceremony in 1987 with his friend and mentor, fiddler Rufus Guinchard.

Other local musicians to have received the honour include singer Anita Best and songwriter Art Scammell.

Russell is the only Newfoundlander receiving the Order of Canada this time around.

The ceremony will stream online at Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. local time.