The 40th annual Calgary Folk Music Festival kicks off Thursday and of the more than 70 bands taking the stage, the festival has lined up a number of Indigenous artists who will be showcasing their talent on the various stages throughout the weekend.
For the festival’s artistic director, Kerry Clarke, having Indigenous artists take the stage is important because they “represent the founding peoples of this country.”
“[It] doesn’t make sense to have a folk or roots festival without making sure that they’re included in a prominent way, and making sure that we reflect a diversity of cultures and music and approaches to music and genres of music within Indigenous music as well,” Clarke said.
“We might have some powwow, some hip hop, people who are singer-songwriters, someone who is an indie artist that is Indigenous. They can also meet each other and the other artists and collaborate and kind of expand their worlds.
Here’s a look at the Canadian Indigenous artists who will be performing at this year’s festival in Prince’s Island Park.
Celeigh Cardinal (Edmonton)
Award-winning Alberta artist Celeigh Cardinal is a soulful folk musician hailing from the northern prairies of Alberta and has been performing since she was four years old.
According to the Calgary Folk Festival website, she not only showcases her talents through music, but also through a podcast.
“Her singing voice is rich and deep with a burnished maturity and a dexterous technical virtuosity that wraps itself around notes with a snarl, a purr or something in the middle,” her bio reads.
“Cardinal owns the stage and connects with an audience through humour, passion and power.”
Cardinal plays Saturday, July 27 at 10:30 a.m. and 3:20 p.m., and Sunday, July 28 at 12:55 p.m.
Eekwol & T-Rhyme (Muskoday First Nation, Man. and northern Saskatchewan)
Eekwol & T-Rhyme will bring hip hop packed with “empowering messages of survival and triumph as Indigenous women” to the stage at this year’s folk festival.
“Both women strike revolutionary stances, aiming to motivate and mobilize the next generation of Indigenous artists, especially young women, with their realistic, pull-no-punches lyrics and through continuing to build bridges within the burgeoning Indigenous hip-hop scene, collaborating with festival alumni A Tribe Called Red, among many others,” the festival said.
You can catch Eekwol & T-Rhyme on Saturday at 11:55 a.m., and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 12:55 p.m. and 4:20 p.m.
iskwē uses her electronic pop, soul and rock sounds to tell stories of Indigenous reconciliation through her music.
“With a commanding voice at the centre, iskwē communicates the sadness of loss and the urgency of action. Her message is forward, sharp and striking,” the festival wrote.
Festivalgoers can expect face paint and elaborate outfits as part of iskwē’s performances.
iskwē takes the stage at the Calgary Folk Music Festival on Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 12:55 p.m.
Logan Staats (Six Nations Reserve, Ohsweken, Ont.)
Logan Staats has been performing since he was a teenager and can often be seen on stage with a harmonica and acoustic guitar in hand.
Festivalgoers can catch Staats on Saturday at 11:55 a.m. and 12:55 p.m., and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 12:55 p.m.
Willie Trasher & Linda Saddleback (Aklavik, N.W.T.)
Willie Thrasher is one half of a duo coming from the Northwest Territories. He shifted his focus to singing about Inuit culture after spending years performing with the rock band The Cordells.
Thrasher’s early life was one filled with struggle, as he was placed in a residential school at age five.
Now playing with partner Linda Saddleback, the two bring stories to the stage with their country-folk style.
“Regarding the resurgence of interest in his music, Thrasher says people are listening to his music from the heart. They’re listening to the words. And it means even more today than it did then,” the folk fest said.
Trasher and Saddleback perform Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 3:20 p.m., as well as Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 12:55 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
Zoey Roy (Saskatoon)
As a hip-hop and spoken-word artist, Zoey Roy takes to the stage with a demeanour that may not reflect the upbringing she’s had, according to the folk festival.
Roy was “an angry and defiant teenager who left home and lived on the streets” before finding her voice.
“Her passion, experience and knowledge in storytelling, artistic expression and community engagement, provide children and youth with a platform to heal holistically and communicate authentically,” the festival said. “Her words and raps will blow your minds and worlds open.”
Roy takes the stage at the Calgary Folk Music Festival on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 1:50 p.m. and 3:05 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The 2019 Calgary Folk Music Festival takes place from Thursday, July 25 to Sunday, July 28 at Prince’s Island Park. Tickets and more festival information can be found on the festival website.