No one is going to fault Eleanor McCain for a lack of ambition in her celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial. The 46-year-old singer and daughter of philanthropists, Margaret and the late Wallace McCain, announced Wednesday she'll be travelling across the country this spring, recording a total of 32 famous Canadian songs, newly arranged for 10 symphony orchestras. Also on tap: the recording of a new original song.
The songs are to be released in the spring of 2017 both online and as a double CD, in tandem with a book and companion documentary. McCain, New Brunswick-born but based in Toronto, came up with the idea for the project, called True North: The Canadian Songbook, in January, 2014. She plans to record three or so songs – the titles are to be announced later – with each orchestra, starting with the Edmonton Symphony on March 22 and ending June 13-14 in Ottawa with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In between, dates are scheduled with Symphony Nova Scotia, Symphony New Brunswick, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra plus the Victoria Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Quebec's L'orchestre symphonique.
Joining McCain on the tour are producer and Emmy Award-winning songwriter/singer/author Don Breithaupt, conductor Martin MacDonald and recording engineer Jeremy Tusz. Guest artists, also to be announced later, will participate in the sessions.
"When I created the song list … I wanted a cross-section of styles and songs from across the country," said McCain, whose previous recording, released in 2014, included covers of such hits as Always on My Mind and Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying. "Yet they also had to be songs consistent with my style."