'Charlie Lake' is an aptly named first track on Dayna Manning's most recent record 'Morning Light', illustrating both the beauty of the Peace Country's northern lights, and setting the tone for the whole album.
Listeners are introduced to a cello and flute in a back and forth dance reminiscent of those lights before Manning asks for them to keep going.
"Oh Charlie, baby, sweetie, won't you dance all night," she sings at the end of the first chorus. "You’ve acted strange since those twelve men drowned. But I forget all about it when you dance around."
"It ties in the story of the 12 men who drowned in Charlie Lake during the construction of the Alaska Highway, and of the ravens marked in the caves there," says Manning.
"One night, I remember the lights came out out more vividly than I had ever seen. My friends taught me that if you whistled at the lights they would dance, and I thought that maybe the lights dancing might represent those men."
Manning wrote the song in 2010 when she lived in the region, but didn't record it until nine years later for 'Morning Light'. The album, released October 2019, is still making waves, notable for its chamber folk style featuring the cello, violin, French horn and flute on each track.
Manning, who produced the album and now lives in Stratford, Ont., is nominated for a 2021 Canadian Folk Music Award for Producer of the Year.
'Morning Light' didn't come out at an opportune time in terms of supporting it via concerts and a tour, as it came out right before the pandemic. But Manning has had a busy couple months nevertheless, performing virtual concerts online. 'Charlie Lake' is one of her most requested songs, she says.
When she isn't performing or producing new music, she is working with Folk Army, where she teaches both music and leadership skills to young women.
Manning was last in Fort St. John to perform at the Association of Community Living's Of The Vine fundraiser in 2019, and hopes to return next summer.
Stay up to date with Manning at daynamanning.com.
Have a track to add to our playlist? Email reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com