CLASSICALLY TRAINED OPERATIC TENOR AND COMPOSER JEREMY DUTCHER BLENDS LOST, TRADITIONAL SONGS OF HIS WOLASTOQ FIRST NATION WITH POST-CLASSICAL ARRANGEMENTS
NEW ALBUM, WOLASTOQIYIK LINTUWAKONAWA, DUE OUT APRIL 6
NORTH AMERICAN PERFORMANCE DATES CONTINUE APRIL 10
"The future meets the past as Dutcher’s resonant operatic voice is paired with a recording made over 110 years ago of a speech. Layered with crystalline strings and booming horns, the result sounds grandiose yet intimate." - NOISEY
WOLASTOQIYIK LINTUWAKONAWA ALBUM ARTWORK // 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. Today, he has shared “Pomok naka Poktoinskwes”, the latest song from his upcoming album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, due out April 6.
Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (wool-las-two-wi-ig lint-two-wah-gun-ah-wa) finds Dutcher exploring, reworking, and collaborating with the voices of his ancestors which he discovered and transcribed from turn-of-the-century wax cylinders.
“Pomok naka Poktoinskwes” (bah-mog na-ga buck-tah-in-skwes) is the song of the Fisher and the Water Spirit. “This was the only archival recording that I recognized from my childhood,” says Dutcher. “It was recovered in the 80s by song carrier Maggie Paul and has been sung in Maliseet communities ever since. I envision Teiya’s high soprano to be that spirit who is troubled by her treatment.”
Dutcher has also shared the powerful artwork that has become the album cover of Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Together with Cree visual artist Kent Monkman, the piece began with the iconic image of ethnographer Frances Densmore collecting songs from Blackfoot chief Ninna-Stako in 1916. The image “is one that has followed me through the process of working on Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa; maybe haunted me,” says Dutcher. “I wanted to flip this image on it’s head and reflect on a contemporary musical self-determination, while integrating the supposed objectivity of the archival project and how it reinforces detachment from communal rematriation. We are reclaiming it.”
The album cover, photographed by Matt Barns and a featuring a custom jacket from Wolastoq designer Stephanie Labillios, also includes Monkman’s stunning work “Teaching The Lost” as a backdrop.
// Ethnographer Frances Densmore collecting songs from Blackfoot chief Ninna-Stako in 1916 //
MORE ABOUT JEREMY DUTCHER AND WOLASTOQIYIK LINTUWAKONAWA
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.
“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.
WOLASTOQIYIK LINTUWAKONAWA TRACKLIST
1 Mehcinut (meh-jin-nud) - Death Chant
2 Essuwonike (us-soo-won-ni-gay) - Trading Song
3 Eqpahak (ek-ba-hug) - Savage Island
4 Ultestakon (ul-tes-tah-gun) - Shaker Lullaby
5 'kotuwossomikhal (kid-do-wus-soo-mi-gall) - Thirsty
6 Sakomawit (sah-ga-mow-wid) - Chief's Installation
7 Oqiton (ah-gwee-din) - Canoe Song
8 Nipuwoltin (nib-bu-wool-tin) - Wedding Dance
9 Pomok naka Poktoinskwes (bah-mog na-ga buck-tah-in-skwes) - Fisher and the Water Spirit
10 Qonute (gwa-nu-day) - Welcome Chant
11 Koselwintuwakon (guh-zell-win-two-wah-gun) - Love Song
Apr 10 - Toronto, ON - Canadian Opera Company - NOON Performance Time
May 4 - New York, NY - Joe’s Pub
May 25 - Ottawa, ON - First Baptist Church
Jun 9 - Toronto, ON - The Great Hall
Jun 27 - Vancouver, BC - Queer Arts Festival
Jul 4 - Montreal, QC - GESU (Montreal International Jazz Festival)
+MORE DATES TBA