Artist: Tony Trischka
Hometown: Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Song: “Carry Me Over the Sea”
Album: Shall We Hope
Release Date: January 29, 2021
Label: Shefa Records
In Their Words: “This project began without the intention of making a Civil War album, though I’ve had an interest in the conflict since childhood. ‘Carry Me Over the Sea’ was originally conceived as an instrumental, which I composed on a low-tuned cello banjo. I created the person of Maura Kinnear, a powerful Irish woman who lost her husband in a mine cave-in. After leaving her children in the safe care of relatives, she took a ‘coffin ship’ across the sea to America. Settling in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Maura met the reformed gambler, Cyrus Noble, whom she married and, together, they sent for her children. Cyrus rejected Confederate conscription and ultimately fought for the Union at the Battle of Gettysburg.
“No one but the incredible Maura O’Connell would do to inhabit the character of Maura Kinnear. I first met Maura when she was singing with DeDanaan in the ‘80s. I was bowled over and continue to be to this day. She is joined on most choruses by the equally talented Tracy Bonham.
“A cohesive narrative beckoned, and after a moving visit to a slave graveyard, I adapted the character of John Boston, an enslaved gravedigger in the 1850s. With these three central figures — Maura Kinnear, Cyrus Noble, and John Boston — along with a 1938 reunion of Gettysburg survivors, North and South, I felt I had the elements of a story.
“Shall We Hope, a phrase taken from a Phillis Wheatley poem, evolved to be just that, a story of hope. It was not created to mirror the divisions that currently exist in our nation. However, I would wish that the timeliness of a hopeful message would ring true today, and that, in some small way, this album could bring positivity, healing and hope in these troubling times.” — Tony Trischka
Photo credit: Zoe Trischka