- Toronto fundraiser and writer Caitlin Smith got a charge out of California tween-teen punk band The Linda Lindas this year with their hit song Racist Sexist Boy
- Diane Beckett – who introduced The Linda Lindas to Kurated – writes a loving and insightful review of acclaimed Indigenous folk star William Prince‘s recent concert in her town of Churchill
The 4th Annual Readers’ Choice
Kurated readers share their favourite music of the last year in the annual Readers’ Choice series. Anything musical is welcomed whether its new, an old favourite, something self-composed and more. Thanks to all the contributors!
Stay tuned and enjoy,
16 January 2022
The Linda Lindas
My most exciting musical moment in 2021 was The Linda Lindas. So confident, so fresh, and so right on with their sassy song Racist Sexist Boy. Loved it!
About Caitlin: Caitlin Smith is a Toronto-based fundraiser and writer with a passion for Scrabble, books, and singing in a choir
The Light Peeked In: William Prince Plays the Churchill Theatre
Hear William Prince
- See an excerpt from his Churchill concert on Prince’s Facebook page (6.54 mins. Prince starts at 1.32)
- Visit Prince’s website for a 15-minute NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert which includes his song Breathless, and his 3 albums
- See a live hour-long concert featuring his album Reliever as well as the song The Spark in CBC Music’s Studio 211
- Link to a short video of one song, The Spark, which William Prince says goes back to his earliest days of learning how to communicate love and hope through music.
Live music has been rare for a couple of years now. But the light peeked in between the narrow space of COVID vaccinations and the emergence of Omicron. That’s when Juno award-winning William Prince came to Churchill, a small village of less than 800 on the tundra beside Hudson’s Bay. The late November show was the first concert in the newly renovated theatre which had closed just before COVID. The pandemic had slowed the renovations and delayed the reopening.
It turns out that William’s mother was born in Churchill and he still has close relatives here. So, when his American tour was cancelled due to COVID, he got on the train with his partner and 5-year-old son to play here instead. It’s a 48-hour trip from Winnipeg to Churchill. A big trip for a little kid. In honour of his son, William called the tour, the “Past My Bedtime” tour.
And, he invited his son to sing a song during the concert. A small body hurled down the aisle and onto the stage. The look of love and admiration for his Dad didn’t once fade. They sang a long, complicated, very beautiful song, with the young boy carrying his weight through the whole duet.
Other than his son joining him for one song, it was just William and his guitar on the stage with a hot lemon-ginger tea beside him. William’s voice – deep, powerful and gentle – spoke to us between songs as if he was in his living room. The speaking would merge into and out of his songs which were also conversations. A conservation with a village he loves and is deeply connected to – now, as well as through his fond childhood memories. His closing song was an improvised love song to and about Churchill.
I was honoured to be there. A concert with a Polaris-prize nominated Indigenous singer songwriter in his mother’s community. A community that is more than 50 per cent Indigenous (Cree, Dene, Inuit and Metis) with a longstanding and popular Indigenous mayor. A concert that came after a summer when all of Canada finally noticed the unmarked Indigenous children’s graves, when flags flew half mast for months in memory of the young lives lost due to government-sanctioned colonialism, and after the first Orange Shirt Day which recognizes the horrible legacy of the residential school systems on multiple generations.
William Prince doesn’t sing only about these issues as this edited excerpt from his entry in the Indigenous Music Directory illustrates: “William Prince approaches the big questions with humility and curiosity. His influences and references, shape his approach to songcraft, a master class in skilful simplicity. Prince’s JUNO Award-winning debut, Earthly Days, introduced the songwriter’s poignant philosophy and rich baritone to the world. His breakout song “Breathless,” found audiences worldwide. His second album, Reliever, began with a single word, which informed a collection of exceptionally rendered explorations of what, who and how peace is found.”
William’s third album, Gospel First Nation, was released during the pandemic. It tells stories of family in the age of grief. The album emerged in response to the worry and disruption of the time. “We are living through an age of grief at the hand of a pandemic”, he said, and he found himself wishing to return to a place of comfort amidst all the chaos. He does so through the music of his childhood, songs of faith, struggle and grace. These are songs he learned and sang with his father in the chapel named for his great grandfathers.
His family home, the community of Peguis First Nation, is named for Chief Peguis, William’s ancestor and one of the highest regarded leaders of his time. The songs of Gospel First Nation link generations and explore the extremely complicated relationship of faith and colonialism with grace and empathy. He says this album is 100 years in the making, and is an act of building a bridge between worlds at odds – Indigenous identity and a plan to extinguish Indian identity – as a way to find harmony in conflicting, complex truths.
Recent accolades include two 2017 Juno nominations and the Juno Award for Best Contemporary Roots Album for his debut record, Earthly Days; the 2020 Polaris Music Prize Long List, the German Record Critics’ Award for Album of the Year, and a Rolling Stone magazine selection in the 30 Best Country and Americana Albums of 2020 for Reliever and the 2020 SOCAN Songwriting Prize for his song The Spark. Prince has also opened for Neil Young a number of times in recent years.
About Diane Beckett: Although Diane misses live music, she is thrilled to kayak with belugas, get safely close to Polar Bears, hike, cross-country ski and snowshoe on the tundra and watch the Northern Lights which some people in town have heard sing.