When The Grandmothers Meet

© Maria Dunn, 2015
Horns arranged by Jeremiah McDade

Inspired by: The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s “Grandmothers to Grandmothers” campaign in solidarity with African grandmothers caring for millions of children orphaned by AIDS; 19th century bard Mairi Mhor Nan Oran (“Big Mary of the Songs”) who fought for crofters’ land rights on Skye; Six Nations women who initiated the protests in 2006 in Caledonia, Ontario to protect unceded Six Nations land from private development; women singing to comfort their families and community after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.


Old woman don't you know your thoughts should ramble
Old woman don't you know your voice should tremble
Just wait until they see you--dancing in the street
Just wait until they hear you--singing to your heartbeat
When the grandmothers meet (x2)
O be in that number
When the grandmothers meet

In 1882 on Skye the Laird's men came
To shift the crofters once again, their bloody aim
But armed with only songs, their birthright and their sticks
The women of the Braes barred the police from their midst
When the grandmothers sing (x2)
Will you add your voice?
When the grandmothers sing

Hi ri o ho ro bho
Hi ri o ho ro bho
Hi ri o ho ro hu o

In another Caledonia, grandmothers stand
Once more they are defending their native land
A peaceful occupation to remind those who forgot
Six Nations never sold it, it should never have been bought
When the grandmothers speak (x2)
Will your heart be open?
When the grandmothers speak

They see their children die of AIDS, their grandchildren mourn
Family in tatters, village fabric torn
They’ve already laboured years to till and to sow
Now they're holding up the sky over death's relentless toll
When the grandmothers dance (x2)
Will you move in time?
When the grandmothers dance

The earth heaved a sigh under Haiti’s feet
Too many hearts crushed in dust and concrete
While the news chews its violence too rabidly to hear
The sound of women singing to drive away the fear
When the grandmothers sing (x2)
Will you add your voice?
When the grandmothers sing


Maria Dunn vocal, guitar, accordion
Shannon Johnson violin
Ojas Joshi tabla
Eric Breton cajon, broom, rattle
Jeremiah McDade soprano sax
Solon McDade upright bass
Chorus: Shannon Johnson, Debbie Houle, Sarah Pocklington