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Northern Opry inductee Carol Gilmore and friends tear the roof off at Prov performance

PROVIDENCE BAY鈥擫ike the songbird who greets us with her familiar song, Carol Gilmore鈥檚 voice and gospel hymns and rhythms rang and filled the Providence Bay community hall last Saturday much to the delight of the full house present to celebrate her induction into the Great Northern Opry. 

Several generations of the Gilmore family and members of the Great Northern Opry celebrated at the Providence Bay Hall with fellow musicians and friends. 鈥淵ou know, my parents always had music playing in the house when we grew up and I learned to play at young age,鈥 Ms. Gilmore said. 鈥淚 just can鈥檛 believe that I have been given this honour for doing something that I love. I want to thank Ben Lentir and family and lastly, but not least, I want to thank God. He gives me the health and the ability to do what I like to do without thinking I should get a reward at the end. Being inducted is a real surprise鈥擨 feel very humbled by it. I鈥檓 just amazed at everyone that is here tonight; thank you so much for coming and for supporting what I like to do.鈥 

Ms. Gilmore鈥檚 induction into the Great Northern Opry was indeed a labour of love. You could see and feel the bond shared by her bandmates and audience members alike. It was quite something to be a part of鈥攅veryone there knew it too. We were all a part of something historic and magic鈥攁 celebration of the trials and tribulations of the gospel of life, each milestone marked by the universal tapestry and treble clef of music. There was an energy and vibe that marked it as a uniquely sacred and special event. 

Host Ben Lentir and band warmed everyone up with a few familiar and classic numbers like 鈥楲ove Bug鈥 and the Dwight Yoakam classic 鈥2 Doors Down鈥 sung by George Williamson on the bus last year and 鈥渂ecause Carol said it was her favourite.鈥 

Mr. Lentir introduced his bandmates accordingly. 鈥淢aurice Labelle on keys, Larry Karn, me, Ben Lentir, George Williamson and Jeff Pyette on guitars, Tim Shaw on drums and Jeff Duroche on bass. I also organize Bluegrass in the Country,鈥 remarked Mr. Lentir, 鈥渟o you鈥檒l see and hear a lot of us play next weekend as well. We鈥檝e got musicians from everywhere coming out to play including an inductee coming all the way from Tennessee.鈥 Mr. Lentir clearly has his hands full with more than just a guitar. 

The apple doesn鈥檛 fall far from the tree. Carol Gilmore鈥檚 son Jeff, left, sings alongside daughter Mackenzie. photos by Alexia Hannigan

The audience was then introduced to previous inductees Mr. Karn and Mr. Williamson before drummer Tim Shaw wowed everyone with his rendition of 鈥榃ipeout鈥 shortly before the first break. The second set began with bandmates Mr. Labelle on keys, Ms. Gilmore鈥檚 son Jeff Gilmore, Mr. Lentir and Mr. Pyette on guitars, Bob Cassiotti on drums, Jeff Duroche on bass and of course, the honorary inductee, Ms. Gilmore herself with her 鈥77 acoustic slide.  

Carol Gilmore, seated, front, is joined by her brothers and sisters and their spouses Wray and Carol Turton, Gloria Cameron, Roger Will, Sharon and Harry Lines and Linda and Bruce Turton.

Ms. Gilmore organized herself and the band on chords and songs and with the holler of a 鈥淐!鈥  kicked off the second set. Surrounded by friends and family Ms. Gilmore did what she does best鈥攎ade everyone relax and smile.  A few songs into the set she paused and reflected, 鈥淵ou know, volunteers spend hundreds of hours doing musicals, Island Singers, whatever we can get to go to that involves music. Miss Ferguson, who allows me to alter costumes for the MSS musical, you people who came tonight thank you so much and my little group down here in the blue shirts. Ms. Gilmore went on to introduce her band. 鈥淚n the paper it said that I started this band; no no no, I did not start this band. I鈥檓 fortunate that they allow me to play. We鈥檝e got Kay Everett from Silver Water on keyboard, Donna Gibson from Little Current plays the rhythm box, Bruce Gibson plays the mouth organ and Roy Robertson, who we call our fearless leader, plays the accordion (Mr. Robertson couldn鈥檛 play that evening having injured his wrist a few days before the show).
Ms. Gilmore joined her son, song and setlist in hand. She was proud to declare she is the keeper of all of the songs and setlists. Ms. Gilmore鈥檚 siblings were urged to come to the stage and said, 鈥淪o maybe we can get the two brothers and the two sisters can come up and sing 鈥榃hispering Hope.鈥欌 You could see and feel the bygone harmonies and memories being conjured up with every note as Ms. Gilmore, surrounded by her brothers and sisters, broke into some old favourites like 鈥楤ehind the Barn鈥 and 鈥楢mazing Grace.鈥欌 

鈥淭his is really cool,鈥 said Mr. Gilmore. 鈥淚 remember this one growing up, you guys all singing this one all together.鈥 Then came the big surprise as Mackenzie Gilmore, 鈥淜inzie鈥 as she goes by, came to the stage to sing 鈥楬ome Now鈥 to her grandma and there wasn鈥檛 a dry eye left in the place. 

The big finish was Ms. Gilmore鈥檚 young grandson EJ Gilmore who walked on and sang 鈥楪ive Heaven some Hell.鈥 Ms. Gilmore鈥檚 legacy will indeed carry on with every song.

by Alexia Hannigan

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