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Historic Music Notes
Like most communities, Makkovik has a long music tradition. In a letter written to his family in Norway in 1901, Torsten Andersen, the founder of Makkovik, wrote (translated from Norwegian): "...We had ten children who are all still alive to this day... One, a girl named Berta Andria, plays the organ in our church, and the piano and harmonica which we have in our house..." [Source: Them Days, Volume 3, No. 3, Spring 1978] (Bertha is the most common spelling of her name. She lived from 1872-1950.)
 
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Photo Courtesy NLAC (larger version)
Labrador Balladeer
Gerald Mitchell (1937 - ) of Makkovik was known as the Labrador Balladeer in the late 1960's and 1970's. He recorded two albums. In 2010 Memorial University's MMaP Department recorded a CD of archival tunes as well as remakes of some previously recorded songs. The CD also features selections from other members of the Mitchell clan: Gary and Jennifer Mitchell; Paul Mitchell; Brandon Pardy. This CD is available for sale in Makkovik. In 2009, Gerald Mitchell was presented with the Unsung Hero Award by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. http://www.nlac.nf.ca/feature/mitchell.htm
 
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The Bandits at the Makkovik Community Hall- Photo Courtesy of Gary Mitchell (larger version)
A Visit From a Polar Bear
A song with this title, A Visit From a Polar Bear, was composed and sung by Gary Mitchell. It was recorded on his audio tape, Hanging on to Labrador, produced in 1992. The song recounts the story of an actual "visit" by a young polar bear to the community of Makkovik in November, 1991. It was quite polite, as a line in the song says. No damage was done, and Wildlife came the following day to airlift the bear by 'chopper' to an offshore island.

Gary Mitchell has been a major musician in the life of Makkovik from his teenage days to his moving to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 2001. And even then he continued to contribute by recording a CD (Finding Our Way Back Home) along with his daughter Jennifer, who has been playing the accordion since the age of four. As a teenager Gary started a rock and roll band, first the Bull Birds, and then the Bandits. The Bandits entertained Makkovik for over thirty years. Weekly dances were enjoyed. Gary kept his repertoire current by learning the popular hits as soon as they came out.

Both CD's are available for sale in Makkovik.
 
Church Choir
Uncle Jim Andersen was a choir master for about 50 years. The members used to gather at his home for practices. A reel-to-reel tape at the White Elephant Museum features members of the choir recording Christmas carols for a St. John's radio station. Uncle Jim still plays the violin, cello, and piano accordion on occasion. In 2009, he and his sister Inga, who was 96 years old at the time, played on stage for visitors from a cruise ship.

Dr. Tom Gordon, Director of the School of Music at Memorial University, has done extensive work preserving the music of the early Moravians in Labrador. Go to this site for more information: http://www.mun.ca/mmap/research/
 
Music Today
Makkovik has a local band, Dickie Dick and the Boys, that plays for the occasional dance. There is a young group recently formed that goes by the name of Search Pardy, whose members are Brandon Pardy (guitar and vocals), Paul Mitchell (guitar and vocals), Billy Andersen (drums), and Jerry Ford (bass guitar). They are usually called upon to play for special events or get-togethers. They also receive invitations to play at events out-of-town.
 
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Drum Dancers in Makkovik - Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Price (larger version)
Drum Dancers
Drum dancing has seen a revival in recent years. Makkovik's first drum dancing group came into being in 2008, when music teacher Natalie Fost started an after-school group. It has caught on and drum dancing is now a feature of most community events.
 
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"Music Notables in Makkovik"- Available for purchase (larger version)
"Music Notables in Makkovik"
Similar to a year book, this book gives snatches of information about notable musicians in Makkovik and nearby homesteads beginning with the founding family up to 2018. Based on information gathered from local residents. The book sells for $60 and if you would like a copy, please contact Joan Andersen at this email: joanders@nf.sympatico.ca
 

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