Men of the Deeps
Origin: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
The Men of the Deeps is a choir of working and retired coal miners from the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada.
They were organised in 1966 as part of Cape Breton's contribution to Canada's Centennial Year (1967). The group's inception was an effort by the people of Cape Breton to preserve in song some of the rich folklore of that island's coal mining communities.
The group sings of the work and lifestyle of the Cape Breton coal miner. Audiences throughout most of Canada and parts of the United States have enjoyed their performances.
They toured the People's Republic of China in 1976. In September 1999 they travelled to Kosovo, Yugoslavia, at the request of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs. There they performed in a gala festival organised by actress Vanessa Redgrave on behalf of the United Nations Children's Fund.
The group's concert tours have included two visits to the United States for performances before the United Mine Workers of America in Cincinnati, Ohio and Denver, Colorado. In their own country they have toured the mining communities of Labrador and Northern Manitoba. They have also performed in most major centres across Canada and countless smaller towns from coast to coast. At Vancouver's Expo '86 they performed in concert with Cape Breton singer, Rita MacNeil and the RCMP Concert Band.
The group released long-play record albums, cassette tapes, and CD's. The group has recorded a choral backup on a Roger Whittaker CD.
In March 23, 1991, the group received Nova Scotia's "Ambassador of the Year" award from the Tourist Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), and in November 30, 1991, the group and its director were honoured with a 25th. Anniversary Banquet hosted by the business community of Industrial Cape Breton.
A book has been released documenting the group's 25-year history: Diamonds in the Rough, by well-known Cape Breton songwriter and author, Allister MacGillivray.
The Men of the Deeps received a unique honour on May 13, 2000. The University College of Cape Breton bestowed an honorary doctoral degree on the entire group in recognition of the group's contribution to Cape Breton culture.
The Men of the Deeps is more than a singing group it is a social institution. There is a camaraderie amongst the members of the group that carries over to their audiences wherever they perform. Clad in coveralls and hard hats, they make an impressive impact when they enter a concert hall in total darkness with only the lamps on their helmets for light.