The Power of Music to Connect Across Place and Time

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
May 16, 2022 / 0 comments

As changes occur across all areas of life, and across all regions of the word, music continues to offer ways to think about events, seek inspiration, and at times take a break to refresh from challenges.

That's true of the music in this episode. We'll celebrate the work of an award-winning musician, remember the passing of another, consider the power of music to connect across place and time, enjoy a quiet time along the road, and celebrate the change of seasons.

The Power of Music to Connect Across Place and Time

Morgan Toney: his name may not ring a bell at first. Toney is a Mi'kmaq fiddler, songwriter, and singer from We'koma'q First Nation and Wagmatcook First Nation in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in Atlantic Canada. Recently, Toney won two East Coast Music Awards: Indigenous Artist of the Year and Inspirational Performance of the Year. Here, he performs and tells the story of Alasutamaqn, a song about facing the unknown. You will find the song recorded on Toney's album First Flight.

Facing the unknown with hope is one of the themes found in the song Love Can Build a Bridge. In the 1980s, the mother-daughter duo The Judds brought a unique sound to country music, a sound which has been recognized, among other honors, by the duo's recent induction into The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Naomi Judd, the mother part of the duo, passed away the day before that event. Her daughters Wynonna, the other half of the musical duo, and Ashley, a top actor, went on with that event and carried it through with grace. Naomi had stepped back from performing in the 1990s, while Wynonna went on to forge a strong solo career. The duo occasionally performed reunion concerts. This video of their song Love Can Build a Bridge is from one of those. You'll find it recorded on several of The Judds' albums.

Connection and respect across division are also part of the song 12th of July/Lament for the Children. The anniversary of a 17th century battle, July is often still a flashpoint for sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. That was on Sean Tyrell's mind when he wrote this song, as were possibilities of reconciliation. Cathie Ryan chose to record it on her first album, which is called Cathie Ryan. You may also want to look for Ryan's album called Through Wind and Rain.

The instrumental Stating Intentions draws another piece of history, a hopeful one from Scotland. The album on which you will find it is called We Have Won the Land, a celebration of local residents' success in buying out the land in their area of the northwest Scottish Highlands from a land speculator in the early 1990s. There are many stories about that, stories well told in music by Rory Matheson, who comes from Assynt, the area of the Highlands where the events took place, and musical collaborator Graham Rorie, who is from Orkney. Downtime from their work with other bands (with tours and concerts cancelled by events of the last while) allowed the pair time to create this project, with music which tells a thoughtful and engaging story from what may at first seem an unlikely inspiration.

Thoughtful and engaging could also be said of The Road Home. It's a reflective piece which Martin Tourish wrote while traveling back to Donegal along the west coast of Ireland. Martin is part of the Donegal-based band Altan. You will find it recorded on Altan's album called The Widening Gyre. Martin is the one playing accordion.

Celebrating the change of season: that's something you could say swifts, the birds, do all the time as they travel great distances all year long, from Africa to northern Europe and other parts of the world. They are often seen as signs of both spring and autumn. Their travels are celebrated in the song Swifts, which you will find recorded on the album Spell Songs II: Let the Light In. Rachel Newton takes lead, with Kris Drever joining in and then the rest of the Spell Songs singers, Beth Porter, Jim Molyneux, Julie Fowlis, Seckou Keita, and Karine Polwart, joining in as the song unfolds.

Hope, change, reconciliation, reflection, landscape, history, and the change of seasons: there's a lot to enjoy and to think about here. May the creativity of these artists be good companion as you celebrate and consider.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.