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Songwriting contest celebrates Amelia Earhart’s connection to Trepassey

Amelia Earhart’s plane “Friendship” in Trepassey Harbour in 1928. — Trepassey museum image
Amelia Earhart’s plane “Friendship” in Trepassey Harbour in 1928. — Trepassey museum image - Submitted

A songwriting contest marking famed pilot Amelia Earhart’s 1928 stay in Trepassey is bringing out messages of courage and a celebration of the history of gender equality.

In 1937, Earhart went missing after leaving Miami, Fla., with her navigator, Fred Noonan, as she attempted to be the first woman to fly around the world. The disappearance and final fate of the two and the plane became a decades-long, world-famous mystery.

But on June 17,1928, she was the first woman to fly the Atlantic, with a team as they left from Trepassey in the Fokker F7 “Friendship” enroute to Burry Port, Wales.

“Their landmark flight made headlines worldwide because three pilots had died within the year trying to be that first woman to fly across the Atlantic. When the crew returned to the United States, they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a reception held by (U.S.) President Calvin Coolidge at the White House,” notes the biography on ameliaearhart.com.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of that flight.

The Mistaken Point Concert Series launched the contest earlier this spring, and on Friday the contest hopefuls’ videos were released.

Earhart was the first woman and the second pilot — after Charles Lindbergh — to fly solo across the Atlantic, in 1932, from Harbour Grace to Londonderry, Ireland.

Genevieve McCorquodale, outgoing program director for the concert series, said 15 artists — some duos — entered the contest and she was amazed at the depth of creativity surrounding the subject and the artists’ ability to channel her vision.

“That’s the secret. Any of us can do anything we put our mind to, the theme throughout all of them,” she said.

“All of us can spread our wings and fly when we need to.”

Among the songwriters, Danika Power wrote about her husband’s grandmother, Laura Devereaux, who was 10 when Earhart stayed in the Rich Devereaux family home in Trepassey.

Another writer, Rowan Sherlock, took inspiration from his own transatlantic trek — moving from Ireland to St. John’s

Katie Barbour, on her entry, “Give Me Wings,” said she thought of Earhart and what her accomplishment meant in light of the gender inequality of the times — 1928.

Deanne Delahunty noted she grew up in Harbour Grace and her mother grew up in Trepassey, so Earhart’s story resonates for those special geographic reasons. 

Amelia Earhart (centre) with Sister Theophane, formerly Bessie Devereaux, and Margaret O’Neal Quinlan in Trepassey in 1928. — Submitted
Amelia Earhart (centre) with Sister Theophane, formerly Bessie Devereaux, and Margaret O’Neal Quinlan in Trepassey in 1928. — Submitted

Part of the process is for the songs to be voted on through likes, but it’s not a popularity contest, McCorquodale said.

From June 15-17, there will be a celebration in the town and the top 10 songwriters will be invited.

Three finalists will be judged at a June gala by Larry Dohey of The Rooms, filmmaker Roger Maunder and MusicNL executive director Glenda Tulk at a June 16 fundraising gala in Trepassey.

McCorquodale said her husband, Lorne Warr, is working with Maunder on a documentary about Trepassey and Earhart.

The couple met in British Columbia and decided they wanted to live in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and Trepassey seemed the perfect spot, she said. She is from Ontario and he is from Lewisporte.

Earhart’s connection to the town, she noted, isn’t as widely known as it should, and it’s hoped the celebration will change that.

The Tourism Revitalization Attraction Plan (TRAP) has a number of major celebrations for the area over the next few years, including the 400th anniversary of Trepassey’s founding, and the 300th anniversary of pirate Black Bart arriving in the harbour.

The songs were released Friday on the Amelia Earhart Song Showcase on Facebook events.

Prizes include a video shoot, accommodations and MusicNL memberships.

barbara.sweet@thetelegram.com

Twitter: BarbSweetTweets

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