Acclaimed Canadian songstress Tonia Cianciulli is going where few artists dare to go, speaking to the impossible agony of losing a child on her heartfelt new single “Churchyard Roses.”
“Churchyard Roses” is inspired by Tonia’s own personal family tragedy– In 1935, her grandparents Chesley and Elsie Dyke lost their four-year-old son Edward when he drowned in their Newfoundland ocean backyard. Tonia collaborated with poet Vaughn Harbin on the lyrics for the piece, attempting to express together what could have possibly been in the hearts and minds of Ches and Elsie upon the loss of their precious son. The results are all at once haunting and humble, fresh and folkloric, and make an admirable contribution to Newfoundland’s legendary musical canon.
Coincidentally, while Tonia was writing and recording “Churchyard Roses,” her father Fred Dyke was writing a biography about his parents and their Newfoundland story. In Skipper Ches, As Tough As It Gets (fresh off the press from Flanker Press Ltd!), Fred captures the joys and struggles of what it was like to live in the rugged Newfoundland outport of Pool’s Island in the early 1900s, the Great Depression and into the 1950s and 1960s. Like father like daughter, the book mirrors much of Tonia’s music, leaning into heartfelt musings, bittersweet memories, and of course, their great love of The Rock.
“Churchyard Roses” features the guitar stylings of Jesse Fegelman, cello contributions from Erika Nielsen, and was recorded, mixed and mastered with Dima Graziaani. It follows Tonia’s previously released 2022 singles “My Voice Belongs To Him”, “Always Her Home” and “Hold His Heart.” The track will feature on her forthcoming album Love Me ‘Till I’m Me Again, a collection of her original musical meditations on her beloved Newfoundland roots.
Tonia has recently performed as a soloist with the Casa Loma Symphony, the Southern Ontario Lyric Opera Company, and visited Newfoundland in September 2022 for a range of concerts, book signings and as the keynote singer at the Century 21 National Convention held at the St. John’s Convention Centre. Tonia will be performing an East Coast Christmas concert with the Cambridge Symphony in December 2022 and is planning a new tour of her Nightingale Sings program for Newfoundland and beyond in 2023. She is honoured to have recently received Brilliant Minded Women’s prestigious award in the Arts & Entertainment category and will be a keynote performer at their 2022 gala.