Stadacona Band member’s new piece inspired by Black Canadians in uniform
By Ryan Melanson,
A longtime member of the Stadacona Band has written and recorded a piece of music inspired by some of the first Black Canadians to serve in military roles.
PO2 Nevawn Patrick’s original composition started as a work-from-home project last year, and has since developed into a fully realized song that was recently recorded by the band in their Windsor Park studio. The working title is For My Country, an ode to Dennis and Leslie McLaughlin’s book of the same name, which offers a history of Black military service in Canada. That book, and the cover image showcasing members of the trailblazing No.2 Construction Battalion, gave PO2 Patrick the original spark.
“I used the story of the No.2 Construction Battalion as a springboard for this project,” he said, noting that while the all-Black First World War Battalion, and the discrimination they faced in their efforts to serve Canada, served as the inspiration, his piece is dedicated to all Black Canadian military members – past, present and future. This acknowledges that even today, Black CAF members can still face discrimination, tokenism, or subtle biases in a way unique from that experienced by their non-Black colleagues.
“In writing this piece, I offer my humble attempt to honour those who paved the way for myself and generations of Black Canadians to proudly serve, and with a special acknowledgement of our civilian brothers and sisters serving in the greater Defence Team,” PO2 Patrick added.
As a military musician for 25 years, he’s performed around the world with his trombone and played countless iconic pieces of music, but writing music is a new venture. All musicians tinker in their free time, but when COVID-19 restrictions sent the band to work at home through the spring of 2020, there was a chance to do more.
“We had to figure out what working from home means as a musician. You can’t just practice your instrument eight hours a day. I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to actually write something,” PO2 Patrick said.
Once he had a strong melody and the bones of a “pretty cool sounding tune,” he turned to Stad Band member and music PhD S1 Jack Brownell for some advice and critique. With his colleagues’ help he was able to fine tune his ideas and layer in the additional instruments, leading up to the recent recording of the finished piece.
The song has components that call back to the sorrowful spiritual songs sung by African descendants during slavery in the United States, and changes throughout sections of the piece symbolize a difficult journey, making way for a path forward to the future.
PO2 Patrick said he’s pleased he was able to spin a positive project out of the difficult pandemic period, adding another impressive footnote to his military career. Despite the challenges that still exist for Black CAF members, he added he remains proud to follow in the footsteps of those who came before him, and to act as an ambassador for the CAF and its values.
Stay tuned to Facebook.com/StadaconaBand to keep up with PO2 Patrick’s project and other news from the east coast’s Navy band.