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Neil Matthews remembered for contributions to P.E.I. music scene

P.E.I. performer Neil Matthews is being remembered for how he shared the gift of music with those across the province and throughout the country. SUBMITTED PHOTO
P.E.I. performer Neil Matthews is being remembered for how he shared the gift of music with those across the province and throughout the country. SUBMITTED PHOTO

P.E.I. performer Neil Matthews is being remembered for how he shared the gift of music with those across the province and throughout the country.

A funeral will be held at Davison Funeral Home Chapel on Wednesday for Matthews, who died earlier this weekend at the age of 78.

Matthews was born in 1939 in Seaview P.E.I. and had an accomplished musical career.
He was the winner of an ECMA Stompin’ Tom Award, which recognizes those who have made a long-term contribution to the industry, and throughout his career shared the stage with artists such as Sunny James, Wilf Carter, Bill Anderson and Hank Snow.

He was also the owner of “Matthews Music,” which operated in P.E.I. for 19 years.

“Neil’s family is grateful for the gift of music that he has encouraged and passed down through the generations, including siblings, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said grandson Brandon Gillis in a written statement.

Matthews was born in his grandmother’s house in Seaview and was raised on a farm in Baltic, P.E.I. by his mother Mildred and father Ed Matthews, who was an accomplished fiddler.

Matthews moved to Ontario when he was 17, where he began working with General Motors and started the band “Ontario County Boys.”

In 1971, Matthews hit the road with his now late brother Garth “Gary” Matthews and the late Gordon Matthews.
The “Neil Matthews Country Music Show” was joined by Dottie Randall on bass and Matthews’ former wife Nancy Jones on vocals.

The band recorded two LPs in Toronto, “The Neil Matthews Country Music Show” and “Beautiful Island, Neil Matthews.”

He moved back to P.E.I. in the early 1970s and opened his music store in Summerside in 1976.

The shop supported P.E.I.’s music scene and supplied instruments in Summerside for 14 years before relocating to Charlottetown for its final five years.

Matthew’s music career did not slow down when he operated the business.

He travelled to Nashville to record a solo album “Old Memories” and also recorded multiple albums with Serge Bernard, Charlie Hansen and Bob Stright.

Following the closing of Matthews Music, Matthews spent nearly a decade performing at Avonlea Village and acting in Anne of Green Gables.

Matthews also played countless festivals, including East Coast Music showcases and P.E.I. Music showcases, as well as many benefits for friends and family.

He was also the recipient of numerous Music P.E.I. awards, including Entertainer of the Year, Country Recording of the Year, Album of the Year and Weekend Warrior of the Year.
In 2003, Matthews married Shelley Matthews (nee Warren) and family members said the two spent 25 loving years together.

Matthews is resting at the Hennessey Cutcliffe Charlottetown Funeral Home, where a visitation will be held Tuesday from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
Another visitation will be held at Davis Funeral Home in Kensington Tuesday evening from 7 to 9 p.m.

The funeral will be held on Wednesday in the Davison Funeral Home Chapel at 2 p.m.

Interment will be held later in People’s Cemetery in Malpeque. Matthews’ obituary states that desired contributions may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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