Designated in 2010 as a Tradition Bearer.
Nominator: Pigeon Inlet Incorporated
Kelly Russell is recognized across the province for his musicianship and commitment to preserving Newfoundland and Labrador’s traditional fiddle music.
A professional musician for over thirty years, Russell taught himself how to play the fiddle as a youth. He was an original member of such landmark Newfoundland groups as Figgy Duff and The Wonderful Grand Band. But Russell is recognized in particular for his work to preserve and disseminate the music of Newfoundland and Labrador’s great fiddle legends Rufus Guinchard and Emile Benoit. To aid in this effort, Russell founded Pigeon Inlet Productions in 1979. Since then, the label has released over thirty full-length recordings. Russell collected and transcribed into musical notation over 500 fiddle tunes unique to the province. Many of these tunes are now published for all to learn and enjoy. As a teacher, Russell has taught and been a mentor to many of today’s up and coming young fiddle players. Russell is also active in reviving the art of storytelling and recitation, inspired by his late father, Ted Russell.
Today, as one of Newfoundland’s most prominent musicians, Russell is recognized as an ambassador for the province’s music. He has performed locally, nationally and internationally taking the unique music of Newfoundland and Labrador across Canada and around the world
Historically, the fiddle has long been associated with the traditional music of Newfoundland and Labrador. The continued efforts of Kelly Russell to carry on these traditions, to learn from the masters of the past, and to pass this knowledge onto future generations mean that fiddle music is still a vibrant part of this province’s present and future.
The Legacy Project
As a recipient of the Tradition Bearer Commemoration, Kelly Russell received a grant to help to develop a Legacy Project that raise awareness of the commemoration and of his work and impact on the musical tradition of this province. Through the grant Kelly has established a web site that houses hundreds of images, hard to find recording, and a number of re-released CD’s. Visit this website to learn more about Kelly Russell, musical traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to find out about upcoming performances.
Kelly Russell playing at NAFco in 2008
Kelly Russell and The Planks: Running the Goat