Newfoundland’s First Christmas Album


by Wayne Tucker (November 2010)

(published in The Newfoundland Herald, Dec. 19, 2010)

Are you shopping for local Christmas music this year? Your most difficult challenge may be making a choice from the smorgasbord of yuletide aural delights in the stores. The variety of festive recordings spans all genres, so there’s something for every taste, ranging from The Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir to Snook, from the 8 Track Favourites to Kim Stockwood. Most of the province’s major recording artists are represented, and the quality is top notch.

But this cornucopia of local Christmas music is a recent phenomenon. Roll back the clock to the mid 1960s, and there wasn’t a solitary domestic Christmas recording to be found. Although local entertainers like Dick Nolan, John White, Wilf Doyle, and Omar Blondahl had oodles of recordings on the market, there was not a Christmas album among them. Then in 1967, Nolan broke the ice with Atlantic Christmas, the first Christmas album by a Newfoundlander.  

Atlantic Christmas was a family affair, featuring the recording debut of Bonnie Lou, Dick’s five year old daughter. Nolan, in his booming baritone, crooned classics like White Christmas and Silver Bells, backed by a fine country band which sounds very Christmasy indeed.  In contrast, Bonnie Lou added her cherubic tones to classics like Jingle Bells and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, and she joined Daddy for a duet on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.   Atlantic Christmas laid the foundation for Bonnie Lou’s recording career, and she went on to regional stardom, releasing three albums for RCA while still in her pre-teens.

Regrettably, Atlantic Christmas was confined to the vinyl vaults for decades.  But, great news! Unidisc Music Inc of Quebec has resurrected this Christmas nugget and released it on compact disc. Unidisc is the Company which released Nolan’s entire catalogue of ARC-label albums from the 1960s on a set of six CDs called The Newfoundland Songbook.  Once again they’ve done a fine job of restoring and enhancing the original recording, bringing new luster to Atlantic Christmas.  The CD version of this chestnut is a fresh listening experience with crystal clear music and full stereo separation.  And as an extra special bonus, it includes two previously unreleased tracks. 

Atlantic Christmas will interest lovers of historic Newfoundland and Labrador recordings. Check with local and online music retailers for availability, or download from iTunes.  For more Dick Nolan, visit www.dicknolan.com .

To contact Unidisc:
Unidisc Music Inc.
    57-B Hymus Boulevard
    Pointe-Claire (Quebec) Canada
    H9R 4T2
    Phone: 514 697 6000;  Fax: 514 697 6864;  Email:
inform@unidisc.com  Web: www.unidisc.com


Track listing | Liner notes