Karaoke Union Songs features some of the stirring music that has been a central part of workers’ struggles over the past century. When union members get together at a party, bar or union school they can use this CD to learn and sing the songs that helped build the union movement we are part of today.
We have combined many of the classics with a few lesser-known gems, and some modern contributions.
These are all-new recordings. They are exciting and fresh, and feature great vocal performances and wonderful musicianship by a range of Toronto area artists.
The styles range from Jackie Richardson’s amazingly powerful, moving jazz interpretation of Strange Fruit to Marnie Niemi and a swinging bluegrass combo on Which Side Are You On? Kathryn Rose’s voice on Bread and Roses is soaring and beautiful. Robert Priest’s Put It on the Ground will have you laughing, Coco ‘Cognac’ Brown nails Joe Hill, and The Ballad of Springhill by Mike Danckert is haunting.
Unionists involved include Mike Hersh of the Steelworkers, who wrote and sings Ruby and the Painted Pants; and Anne Healy of CUPE, who sings Union Maid with Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher. Marnie Niemi is an OPSEU Rep. The booklet text is written by Tony Leah, CAW.
The CD features vocal and karaoke versions of each song. As far as we know these are the first karaoke versions of union songs released anywhere. It comes with a 16 page pamphlet that includes all the lyrics, and also a short essay on the history and context of each song, illustrated with photographs.