Monday, 21 October 2013

native musicians Cris Derksen & Swil Kanim

A rising star on the Canadian classical/jazz/folk/pop/electronic scenes, cellist Derksen’s music (listen here) draws from traditional classical training, her Aboriginal ancestry and new school electronics, to create genre-defying music. (cross-posted from CBC's 8th Fire series.]
Chris Dirkson.jpg I am a half Cree, half Mennonite person living in East Vancouver. I come from North Tallcree First Nation and this little Mennonite town called La Crete in Northern Alberta. I grew up mostly in Edmonton, Alberta where I learned how to play the cello. I’m pretty glad I did, it is a pretty great and weird job to have.
One thing I liked about growing up in a city is that I had access to things I wouldn’t have living on a reserve far north like mine, such as music lessons. But I also missed out on things I would have learned growing up on a reserve and I wasn’t able to see my Kokum and Mosom very often. I’m not sad about it; it is just how my path was laid out for me. These days I travel a lot and have gotten to see a lot of the world through playing music with many great musicians. I am lucky that many of the people I travel with are also Indigenous, because this makes for good times, great laughs and deep understanding. I hope you enjoy 8TH FIRE as much as I did. I am very grateful to be part of this series. It seems to have come at a very poignant time in Canadian Aboriginal history.

She set this classic Haida tale to music, in collaboration with Red Haida graphic novelist Yahgulanaas aka Michael Nicoll.

from her website

Salish violinist-composer-storyteller Swil Kanim is from the Lummi reserve near Bellingham WA.
credit: JavaColleen blog
Like many native children he was taken from his parents and spent the remainder of his childhood in foster homes. One of his teachers encouraged him to enroll in a music program, and the violin became his music instrument of choice. Through music, he found his path to healing childhood wounds and reconnect to his native roots.

Swil Kanim's compositions incorporate classical influences as well as musical interpretations of his journey from depression and despair to spiritual and emotional freedom. Listen to his Works for the People (2003) at

His workshops, The Elements of Honor,  inspire people of all origins to express themselves at conferences, workshops, school assemblies, and rehabilitation centers. He travels extensively throughout the United States, enchanting audiences with his original composition music and native storytelling. The Tree Story is an example of this work.

For more contemporary native artists, see Beat Nation.

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