feature films

Surrounded By Water...
the Joan Morrissey Story

Produced, Written and Directed by Rhonda Buckley

Joan Morrissey lit up a room and her powerful singing held the audience in the palm of her hand with her rich, bold voice. She was a lounge singer six nights a week and raised her six children all day and night too. She was born in 1933 in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland and started singing on the radio at seven years of age. She was nominated for a Juno award, sold over 50,000 records and when a Toronto record company sent her a cheque for $38.00 she took them to court, insisting artists must be paid. She called the company crooks on the front page of the local paper.

Joan washed her children’s clothes in a river, yet still managed to host eight TV shows for two local TV stations. She performed live on Canada AM, where with Newfoundland bravado, she sang "Thank God Were Surrounded by Water", to glowing reviews. Joan performed in Toronto and Nashville, and volunteered with the parent teachers association, made brownies, and when other mother’s told her children she was a ‘loose’ woman performing in a bar, she said, “to hell with what others have to say, you must always do what you think is right.” Joan performed while pregnant and at times up until the last day before she gave birth. From Joan’s point of view, “I said I could do it and that is why I can. It is no more than folding laundry or baking bread. I always knew I could do it and so I do.”

She had withstood a court case with a national record label, a jealous and harsh husband, and a heart surgery that left her with severe depression. At 44 years of age, after singing "how great thou art" to family and friends on New Years Day, she ended her life. A community was halted in sorrow, and her five daughters and one son still bond today over the love and honour of their Lady of Song - Joan Morrissey.

Joan’s music is still heard on the radio in Australia, Europe and here at home. “Yes My Dear”, Joan would say, I will sing you a song...

back to main