The Ennis Sisters have weathered a lifetime of phases, and a series of musical explorations together. Their latest album, Stages, is a return to their roots – singing contemporary folk songs with a traditional Irish Newfoundland twist.
“That’s all we knew growing up,” says Maureen Ennis. “Newfoundland is a very unique province and because of this, we have a different perspective of our surroundings.
“We identify very strongly with coming from an island in the middle of the North Atlantic. There is definitely a ruggedness and a tenacity that comes with being from a place like Newfoundland.”
With multiple accolades – a Juno Award, SOCAN Award, multiple East Coast Music Awards, and Music Newfoundland and Labrador Awards, The Ennis Sisters, comprised of Maureen, Teresa and Karen Ennis, are world renowned, celebrated songbirds. With their buttery harmonies, and voices as powerful as the Atlantic, it’s in their bones to sing.
Stages is a love letter to old world Newfoundland with a modern flair. Songs like “Dreaming My Dreams With You,” “The Pines,” “Rock Yourself On The Ocean,” and “Out From St. Leonard’s,” conjure up the island’s otherworldly beauty, deep rooted history and seasoned resilience.
“The name represents the workstations that our forefathers toiled over when the fishery was alive and well in Newfoundland,” says Teresa. “It also represents the way we’ve made our living, having built our career performing music on so many stages around the world, and we’ve gone through so many stages to get to this point in our nearly 20 year musical journey, personally and professionally.”
Recorded over a month at The Sound Solution in St. John’s, Stages is an 11-track collection of contemporary folk songs charting life cycles, love, and loss, produced by Maureen Ennis and Billy Sutton. Stages features the island’s finest musicians, including: fiddle player Emilia Bartellas, Craig Young on dobro, Paul Kinsman and Louis McDonald on piano, percussionist Greg Hawco, piano accordionist Catherine Allan, Glenn Simmons and Jason Whelan on electric guitar, Joel E. Hunt on mandolin, as well as a string ensemble, comprised of Heather Kao, Kate Read, and Theo Webber.
After wading in and out of pop and country waters, with albums such as The Fortunate Ones (2012), Lessons Learned (2009), Be Here For Awhile (2007), Can’t Be The Same (2003), Ennis Sisters (2001), Three (2000), Christmas On Ennis Road (1998), and Red Is The Rose (1997), The Ennis Sisters took a break, and returned with Stages: a homecoming.
“I think we lost ourselves a bit along the way and it was really necessary for us to take a hiatus in order to regain our focus,” says Maureen. “We’ve come to realize that we feel most satisfied singing songs inspired by our roots, especially when we sing them together. Stages is a direct reflection of that.”
The Ennis Sisters were born and raised on Irish Newfoundland tunes. Their father is a traditional button accordion player, and mother grew up on the southern shore of the Avalon, surrounded by music. Throughout the Ennis Sisters’ childhood, if their parents weren’t making music, it was coming through the radio – particularly the Irish Newfoundland radio shows, which aired on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
“There was just no escaping the Irish Newfoundland, Traditional music growing up,” says Karen. “When we first began singing for an audience, these were the songs we sang. It’s what came easiest and most natural, and still does.”
Maureen plays Stonebridge Guitars (https://stonebridgeguitars.com)
Karen plays Michael Burke Whistles (http://www.burkewhistles.com)