CLASSICALLY TRAINED OPERATIC TENOR AND COMPOSER JEREMY DUTCHER BLENDS LOST, TRADITIONAL SONGS OF THE WOLASTOQ FIRST NATION WITH POST-CLASSICAL ARRANGEMENTS
NEW ALBUM, WOLASTOQIYIK LINTUWAKONAWA, DUE OUT APRIL 6
NORTH AMERICAN PERFORMANCE DATES BEGIN FEBRUARY 15
PHOTO CREDIT : Matt Barnes // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
Jeremy Dutcher is a classically trained operatic tenor, composer, activist, and musicologist who takes every opportunity to blend his Wolastoq First Nation roots into the music he creates, blending distinct musical aesthetics that shape-shift between classical, traditional, and pop to form something entirely new.
A member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Jeremy first did music studies in Halifax before taking a chance to work in the archives at the Canadian Museum of History, painstakingly transcribing Wolastoq songs from 1907 wax cylinders. “Many of the songs I'd never heard before, because our musical tradition on the East Coast was suppressed by the Canadian Government’s Indian Act,” explains Dutcher. He heard ancestral voices singing forgotten songs and stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik generations ago.
As he listened to each recording, he felt his own musical impulses stirring from deep within. Long days at the archives turned into long nights at the piano, feeling out melodies and phrases, deep in dialogue with the voices of his ancestors. His “collaborative” compositions on his new album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, (wool-las-two-wi-ig lint-two-wah-gun-ah-wa) are like nothing you’ve ever heard. Delicate, sublime vocal melodies ring out atop piano lines that cascade through a vibrant range of emotions. The anguish and joy of the past erupt fervently into the present through Jeremy’s bold approach to composition and raw, affective performances enhanced by his outstanding tenor techniques.
The album’s opening song, “Mehcinut” (meh-jin-nud) is from one of the archival recordings which has the clearest quality. “You are able to hear a speech by Jim Paul about death and what comes after, which ends the piece,” says Dutcher. “The lyrics, ‘Ya-ni-gwe-do’, are likely vocables, but could also be an older form of language no longer spoken.”
“I'm doing this work because there's only about a hundred Wolastoqey speakers left,” he says. “It's crucial for us to make sure that we're using our language and passing it on to the next generation. If you lose the language, you're not just losing words; you're losing an entire way of seeing and experiencing the world from a distinctly indigenous perspective.”
Last year, Dutcher spent some time on the road with the New Constellation’s tour. Hosted by Jason Collett, the music and literary tour travelled to cities, towns, and Indigenous communities across the nation, featuring a core roster of Indigenous artists alongside a rotating cast of some of the country’s most celebrated musicians, writers, and poets. NOW Toronto claims that if you caught the tour “you were likely blown away by Jeremy Dutcher’s booming operatic voice and sweeping performance.”
Dutcher will spend some more time on the road this Spring and Summer, with stops and festival dates throughout Canada. Full tour dates can be found below.
More details on Jeremy Dutcher’s upcoming album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, will be announced in the near future.
“Mehcinut” Single Artwork // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
Feb 15-17 - Kansas City, KC - Folk Allliance
Mar 2 - Regina, SK - Forward Current Festival
Apr 10 - Toronto, ON - Canadian Opera Company
May 25 - Ottawa, ON - First Baptist Church
Jun 27 - Vancouver, BC - Queer Arts Festival
MORE DATES TBA