ROCKY HARBOUR — He has written thousands of songs, many of which flow from strong Newfoundland roots. His pride and intense love for his home province is undeniable from his extensive musical repertoire of traditional songs with a heartfelt message.
Roy Payne, Trout River native, was awarded MusicNL’s Lifetime Achievement Award Sunday night and though Payne said he’s not one for awards, this one is different.
“I’m not really into awards and stuff. I’ve been nominated for a lot, but I don’t want them. This is different … If I get through without crying it’ll be a miracle,” he said.
Payne, one of Canada’s top songwriters and currently residing in Ontario after being a staple at the popular Horseshoe Club in Toronto for years, said coming home to receive the award means the world to him.
“I might have lived on the mainland all my life but the Newfie’s never come out of me … You can take the boy from the bay, but you can never take the bay from the boy. It’s a beautiful feeling, coming home for this. It’s totally amazing. It’s mind-boggling,” he said.
Payne said although music exuded from the province is evolving, a lot of it contains the same strong connection to the province and what it means to be a Newfoundlander.
“The kind of music that I’m used to has changed. Some I like and some I don’t. Newfoundland has kept it pretty well still about Newfoundland. Tradition is big here. Once a Newfoundlander you’re always a Newfoundlander. I’ve written over 300 Newfoundland songs and it’s all about the friendship, the sea. No one is friendlier than Newfoundlanders,” he said.
Musicians fresh on the scene will more than likely jump at the opportunity to speak with Payne, a strong presence in the music industry for decades. Payne said the feeling is mutual and that meeting the younger musicians attending the conference is what he is looking forward to the most.
“I’m meeting all the younger ones that are taking over from us old boys. It’s a new knot in the rope … Just to listen to them and if they want to talk with me, ask me questions, that’s great. Music is not the easiest job in the world … I got lucky,” said Payne.
From his years of experience and mounds of musical projects, Payne is clear on what works for him.
“I’ve always written with feeling and I don’t throw any punches. What I put down stays down. I won’t change a line. You write a song in 20 minutes it’s the best one you’ll write,” he said.
His writing does continue. Payne said he’s expecting the release of his next album in June and a book six months later. The album and book will encompass an intertwining of his experiences both in the military and in the music industry. Payne served in the Canadian military for about 12 years with stints in the Gaza Strip, Cyprus and Egypt. He said writing about life experiences gives strength and truth to the song.
“I’ve written, I’ve stopped counting, over a thousand and I’m still writing. That’s not to say they’re all good or they’re all going to be recorded but to me, writing is the cheapest psychiatry you can find. You’re putting it all down … Every song I write is an award.”