Balbulican

Please Send All Your Money To A Most Deserving Artist. Yes, All Of It. Now, Please.

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A woman who is magic, and one of the most amazing artists in Canada, is asking for your help.

I first heard Tanya Tagaq Gillis perform years ago at a benefit concert for Kashechewan refugees. She was one of several musicians in an all-star lineup of Aboriginal performers. I was curious; I had met her in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, years before, but I didn’t know she was a musician.

Tanya was scheduled to follow Digging Roots, an excellent, high-powered global blues/jam band. Funny they’d put a soloist onstage after a group that strong, I thought.

Tanya came onstage, relaxed and smiling, dressed in jeans and t-shirt, no band, holding her toddler. She set her child down, and he sat at her feet solemnly watching the crowd and holding her leg. She thanked us for coming, talked about how hard it must be for the people of Kashechewan to be forced to live so far from home.

Then she sang. Or rather, for twenty minutes she surrendered her voice to whatever inhabits her and uses her as its instrument.

There is no way to describe that performance. There was throat singing in there, the ancient Inuit voice game that mimics the sounds and rhythms of nature, and always ends in laughter. And there was scat, free-form scattergun vocalese. And operatic trills, and new music atonal melodic lines, and rock roars, and blues moans, and long low notes like a cello, and staccato trills like water running over rocks, and sobbing, and laughing, and sounds that have no name - maybe the muttering of Sedna - flowing from this woman on stage, eyes closed, swaying and jerking to her own internal voices, with a toddler clutching her jeans.

The…song? transmission? channelling?… went on for about fifteen minutes. She finished. We exhaled. She thanked us, gathered her child into her arms, and walked offstage.

Since then Tanya has recorded and performed with Bjork, the Kronos Quartet, Shooglenifty, Bobby McFerrin, and others, at venues from the Vancouver Olympics to Carnegie Hall. But every performance - in any venue, in any context - has given me the same shiversome sense of a crack opening and music spilling out from a source no-one except Tanya has found.

So to the point. Tanya is crowd sourcing (what we used to call fundraising) in order to complete her third studio album. Here’s the pitch.Note that for a twenty five dollar contribution, you get a free ticket to a live performance: for $100, you get a free CD and autographed photo. Consider - for a contribution to the Free Dominion Defence Fund, do you get anything NEARLY that much fun? I think not.

Tanya is about halfway to her goal. Trust me: this woman is a major Canadian artist, utterly unique, phenomenally gifted, and elemental in her musical power. Contribute to her album and you’ll add a little joy to the world.

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This page contains a single entry by Balbulican published on June 10, 2013 7:38 PM.

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