In this month of August, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature the artistry of kith&kin in their hymn Cool of the Day. St. Francis of Assisi would very much feel at home singing this hymn in any season amid the gardens of life. In our experience summer monsoons certainly stir up winds of refreshing coolness in the desert heat. (Photo: Sister Carol Seidl, Casa Grande, AZ) In time the cold breath of winter so soon follows.
We’ve come to think of Cool of the Day as an eco-hymn. We’ve been singing it for more than a decade at our concerts and community events, and we’re always amazed by how powerfully it moves people, whether or not they subscribe to a particular faith. The late Jean Ritchie is one of our heroes, a great songwriter and keeper / sharer of deep folks traditions.
Kith&kin, a musical trio comprised of singer-songwriter Ivy Mairi, her sister Martha Farquhar-McDonnell and their mother Kathleen McDonnell, has its roots in their home base on Toronto Island. Through singing together at countless community gatherings and celebrations over the years, and with the help of instinctive family harmony, Kathleen, Martha and Ivy developed their characteristic style, using close harmonies and spare instrumentation to create haunting arrangements of the music of Appalachia, the British Isles, and other traditions.
The recording of their first CD, Yet Will I be Merry: Carols and Songs of the Season, was done at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake, a historic and beautiful church on Toronto Island, where the trio had performed many times at the annual Island Wassail holiday celebration. In 2009 they launched a mainland version, the kith&kin Holiday Wassail, at the Music Gallery. This annual sold-out show is a community celebration that has become a tradition for many families and music lovers in Toronto. For the Holiday Wassail, kith&kin enlists the musical help of an eight-member choir (the trio plus Isla Craig, Max Milton Kelly, Frank Griggs, Gabriel Levine, and Andrew Patten), many of whom they first met at monthly Toronto Shape-Note singing gatherings. The kith&kin Choir is raw and powerful, and performs lesser-known seasonal folk music from the Sacred Harp, Appalachian, and British Isles traditions.
In 2014 kith&kin released their second CD Cool of the Day, again recorded at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake church. The album features songs about water, and was named after the powerful enviro-hymn by influential American folk singer Jean Ritchie. In addition to their annual Wassails, kith&kin performs regularly in Toronto – including performances at the SING! Festival in the Distillery District, Montgomery’s Inn, Nuit Blanche and Harbourfront’s Canada Day celebrations. Most recently they created The Hollow Square, an innovative music theatre production that played to sold-out audiences at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.
Youtube video of Cool of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa09aTR8qQk
Bandcamp page to order Cool of the Day CD / download https://kithandkintrio.bandcamp.com/
Maple Music site to order Yet will I be Merry: Carols and Songs of the Season CD http://www.maplemusic.com/artists/ivy/disc.asp