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Music News - Historic dispute inspires winning folk album

03 February 2010 - 0 Comments

Wellington singer-songwriter Chris Prowse has taken out the 2009 Tui for Best Folk Album of the year with ‘Trouble On The Waterfront’.

Prowse conceived, wrote and produced the record, an innovative musical chronicle of Auckland’s 1951 waterfront dispute inspired by David Grant’s book ‘The Big Blue’.

The album is a collaboration of New Zealand singers, musicians and well known broadcasters who have come together like actors in a film to explore the events of the historic and bitter dispute through the medium of contemporary song.

The other finalists were Christchurch group Emeralds & Greenstone for its self-titled debut album and Mel Parsons from the West Coast for her debut album ‘Over My Shoulder’.

Recording Industry Association of New Zealand CEO Campbell Smith says Prowse’s recording is a marvellously innovative and creative account of a significant event in our country’s history.

“‘Trouble On The Waterfront’ revives folk music as an important medium for social commentary and is a most welcome and important contribution to the genre’s growth in that area.

“Chris’ recording also demonstrates superb creative values across writing, musicianship and production and we are delighted to be able to award the Folk Album Tui for 2009 to him.”

On his website, Prowse describes the 155-day 1951 waterfront dispute as an epoch in New Zealand history. “Not only was it a struggle between the left and the right, between the various forces within the union movement, but also it was a struggle that raised serious questions about the importance of civil liberties in a democracy during times of internal conflict. Trouble on the Waterfront explores that time through the medium of contemporary song,” the website says.

The recording features some leading New Zealand singers and musicians including Bill Hickman (The Shot Band), Eva Prowse and Tessa Rain (Fly My Pretties), Andrew Delahunty (The Windy City Strugglers), songwriter and performer Arthur Baysting, and Darren Mathiassen (Hollie Smith and Rhombus).

In addition, the album includes voice tracks by well-known radio broadcasters Sharon Crosbie and Tom Frewen on the song ‘Media Watch’.

Chris Prowse is based in Wellington and has been a long time accompanist for Marg Layton and also performs with his daughter Eva Prowse (of Fly My Pretties fame).

He runs an accountancy and consultancy business involved in broadcasting, film and the performing arts. Prowse is a board member of The New Zealand Film Production Fund, a director of Red Rocks Records, chairman of the Hannah Playhouse Trust Board and is a part-time tutor for the Bachelor of Performing Arts Management degree at Toi Whakaari / New Zealand Drama School.

The Folk Music Tui for the best album of 2009 is to be presented at the final concert of the Auckland Folk Festival in Kumeu on Sunday 31 January 2010. (www.aucklandfolkfestival.co.nz)

Thanks to www.nzmusicawards.co.nz for this story.

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