The other day while I was driving into work I was listening to Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean. One of my favourite parts of that show is the Canadian indie music that is included in every episode. The episode that was on that morning was featuring Indigenous musicians from Canada.
I was blown away by a number of the artists featured but was particularly enthralled by the music of Chris Derksen. Derksen is a trained cellist and weaves orchestral music around contemporary powwow music. The unexpected combination of these two genres is unlike anything I have ever heard before – but is amazing. It’s inspiring to hear a new form of music that is creating something completely different and unique.
Derksen’s third studio album Orchestral Powwow was nominated for a the Instrumental Album of the Year Juno in 2016. Take a listen to her music – the only way I can describe it is mind-blowing. Derksen is also one of the individuals I hope to help create a Wikipedia page for during the upcoming Rewriting Wikipedia event focused on Indigenous women.
This past week the local community choir which I’ve been part of for the past number of years held their Spring concerts. Based in Thessalon the North Channel Community Singers is a fun, non-competitive choir that invites participation from anyone with a love of music. Though the average age of the choir’s members is much older than me they have been extremely welcoming from the start. Members have repeatedly insisted that no exceptional musical skill is required and anyone who wants to join is welcome. Despite this seemingly free-for-all I am constantly surprised by the quality of the music put on by the choir.
As our Spring choir concerts approached I had flashbacks to the church choir, children’s choir, and youth choir I was part of in my younger years. Sensible rules like only using pencil to mark your music, the need to memorize music, and similar songs we sang were some of the things that came to mind. I was also reminded of the guidelines around uniform dress, performance hair, and avoiding dairy products before concerts. A drastic change to a community choir where memorization isn’t required and everyone’s performance clothes look slightly different.
I’ve enjoyed participating in this range of choirs – church, community, and competitive. All come with different expectations, highlights, and downsides. Though in all cases I still insist that altos have more fun. The small alto section of the North Channel Community Singers has repeatedly been a pick me up on Tuesday nights and a great source of laughter.
One of my favourite things is when you discover a new band or musician. It’s often like you’ve just learned this amazing secret or unearthed a whole world of possibilities. I also have a soft spot for lesser known Canadian artists.
Recently while listening to Vinyl Cafe I was treated to the music of Sarah MacDougall. I immediately made a note to learn more and find more of her music to listen to. Born in Sweden she now calls Canada home and her music is a great mixture of folk and roots. Take a listen: