From Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland, Jim Payne is a leading performer, collector and producer of traditional Newfoundland music. One of the province’s most prolific songwriters, he is also a singer, storyteller, writer, actor, step dancer and traditional dance instructor. He has performed extensively on radio and television in Canada and abroad, and toured throughout North America, the US, Europe, Japan and Australia.
An ECMA award winner, Jim owns and operates the largest traditional music record company in eastern Canada. SingSong Inc. has released over 40 titles featuring traditional and contemporary music that reflects the Newfoundland experience, including recordings by legendary traditional musicians as well as contemporary folk and traditional artists.
He is a veteran of Rising Tide Theatre’s annual REVUEs, one third of the musical comedy act, Wicked Altogether with Pete Soucy (Snook) and Fergus O’Byrne, and a member of the traditional music group, A Crowd of Bold Sharemen. He is a past recipient of the NL Arts Council’s Arts In Education and Outstanding Cultural Achievement Awards, and a Cultural Tourism Award from the provincial Dept. of Tourism and the federal Dept. of Canadian Heritage. He teaches at the MUN School of Music, and, for the past several years has toured oil installations on the Grand Banks during Christmas week with musical partner Fergus O’Byrne. In 2011, Jim was one of five world musicians, and the only one from North America, invited to a symposium in Kagoshima, Japan, on writing contemporary music and song that becomes part of local traditions.
Jim is also an adventurer who has circumnavigated the island of Newfoundland more than 20 times, sailed through the Northwest Passage and back, and travelled widely throughout the Canadian and Scandinavian Arctic, including Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. He has also crossed the Drake Passage between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica several times to travel to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.
In 2016, Jim was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Hall of Honour, and in 2017 was presented with the Stompin’ Tom Connors Award by the East Coast Music Association for a long history of contributions to the music industry. He was also a guest presenter at a symposium on the cultural connections between Newfoundland and England in Devon, England while touring the UK.
Most recently in 2021 Jim, along with Fergus O’Byrne, and Mark Manning and Aaron Collis of Rum Ragged, completed a successful, sold out tour of the Arts & Culture Centres of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society recognizes Jim Payne’s outstanding contributions to the traditional folk arts of the province with the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award.