Cape Breton University is remembering the life and accomplishments of John (Jack) O`Donnell, honourary degree holder and long-time conductor of North America`s only coal miners choir, the Men of the Deeps.
Jack served as the choir`s conductor for nearly half a century coaxing harmonies, emotion and passion from generations of coal miners. Jack worked his life to create a world-class group that is only a musical sensation, but also a reflection of Cape Breton’s long mining history and part of the island’s culture. The choir has toured the world over and O’Donnell was at the helm for it all until he retired in January 2017.
Jack was an ethnomusicologist, trained pianist and a professor of music at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. For most of his time with the choir, he travelled about three hours to Glace Bay every Sunday afternoon to conduct. Jack became an official member of the CBU family in 2000 when the Men of the Deeps were awarded honourary degrees, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Our thoughts are with Jack`s family and as well as the members of the Men of the Deeps at this difficult time.