Asani

Asani

BandWorldFolk

Asani (Rock), a contemporary Aboriginal women’s vocal trio has been captivating audiences since 2001. Their songs resonate with their own blend of traditional percussive (drums/rattles) and vocal influences, infused with the sounds of jazz, folk and blues often underpinned by world beat rhythms.

Biography

Asani (“rock” in the Cree language), an Edmonton based contemporary Aboriginal women’s vocal trio has been captivating audiences with their harmonies, vocal artistry and rhythmic style since 2001.

Asani’s music is a reflection of where they come from and who they are. It is a celebration of their musical and cultural roots within a contemporary context. Carrying with them the traditional influences of First Nations and Metis music accompanied by drums and rattles, their songs resonate with their own blend of traditional vocals infused with the sounds of jazz, folk and blues.

Their unique blend of rhythms based on traditional Cree/Metis musical styles combined with a variety of those found in other music traditions puts Asani in a category all their own. That these unique patterns are incorporated into both their instrumentation as well as their various vocal parts allows Asani to offer up musical fare that is vocally and percussively, rich, beautiful and compelling. Asani’s repertoire is mainly comprised of original compositions in Woodland Cree and English.

Asani’s debut album Rattle and Drum (2005) was nominated for a total of 11 music awards including a 2006 Juno nomination for Aboriginal Recording of the Year. It won the Canadian Aboriginal Music Award for Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots Album in 2005, and has received many enthusiastic reviews.

Their follow-up CD Listen , released October 2009, continues to celebrate Asani’s passion for vocal creativity while expanding on the interplay between rhythm, texture, harmony and instrumentation. Listen features legendary percussionist and sound guru Ed Mann (Frank Zappa), who both produces and performs with the group, and drummer extraordinaire Bruce Aitken (Founder of the Cape Breton International Drum Festival). The results have lifted Asani’s art to a dynamic new level.

Asani performs frequently in Canada as well as around the world, and has composed and performed musical soundtracks for documentaries, film and television. Having performed at both Carnegie Hall, New York and the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. Asani is currently garnering national acclaim for their unique arrangement of “O Canada” sung in English, French and Cree.

Debbie Houle (lead vocals, harmony, drum and rattle) is Cree from the Elizabeth Metis Settlement. She was born in Edmonton and was raised in the Elizabeth Metis Settlement in Northeast Alberta. She has been singing since the age of five and studied voice at the Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton, Alberta. Debbie works as a community builder for the Wicihitowin: Circle of Shared Responsibility and Stewardship as part of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy.

Sarah Pocklington (Lead vocals, harmony, drum and rattle) is Cree Metis and graduated from the vocal program at Grant MacEwan Community College, has a B.A. in English/Anthropology, a Masters Degree in Native Studies and is currently working towards a PhD in Education Policy Studies with a focus on contemporary Aboriginal music. She has also taken courses in dance, drama and percussion. Sarah has been teaching, developing courses, and conducting workshops in the field of Native Studies for the past 18 years. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Policy Studies with the University of Alberta.

Sherryl Sewepagaham (Lead vocals, harmony, drum and rattle) is from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta. She began singing since a young age and went on to study classical voice and piano at the Alberta College Conservatory of Music in Edmonton and Douglas College in New Westminster, BC. She has completed her Bachelor of Education degree in Elementary (Music). Sherryl is currently an elementary music teacher and conductor of the Aboriginal children’s choir, Awasisak Nikamowak.

Lyrics

Rez Sister

Written By: Sarah Pocklington

I’m a Rez Sister, that’s a who I am
Even though I’m livin’ in the heart of downtown
I’m a Rez Sister, and I ‘m doin’ alright
Never gonna give up the fight!

‘Cause I’m a Rez Sister, that’s a who I am
Even though I’m livin’ in the heart of downtown
I’m a Rez Sister, and I ‘m doin’ alright
Never gonna give up the fight!

Workin’ hard for this lousy pay
Just to make sure that my kids are okay
I love my man with a all of my heart
Tryin’ hard just to do my part

‘Cause I’m a Rez Sister Gonna shout it out loud
A Rez Sister of that I am proud
‘Cause I’m a Rez Sister workin’ for community
And someday we are gonna be free

Holdin’ hands and a healin’ hearts
My kokum says that’s how community starts
Feel it in your bones, smell it in the air
And if you catch it with your feet
You can feel it there

‘Cause you’re a Rez Sister, yeah a shootin’ star
A Rez Sister and your gonna go far
You’re a Rez Sister and you’re doin’ alright
Never gonna give up the fight!

‘Cause I’m a Rez Sister, that’s a who I am
Even though I’m livin’ in the heart of downtown
I’m Rez Sister and I’m doin’ alright
Never gonna give up the fight.

‘Cause I’m a…
a Rez Sister, that’s a who I am
Even tho I’m livin’ in the heart of downtown
I’m Rez Sister and I’m doin’ alright
Never, never, never
Never, never, never
‘Cause I’m a Rez Sister!!!!!

Discography

"Rattle and Drum", released in January 2005
"Listen", release date TBA (2009)

Many Featured songs on compilations or other artist's CD's including:

"Indian Rezervation Blues and More" (2009), DixieFrog
"AB2: Alberta's Playlist" (TBR 2009), Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
"Sparkle" (2008), Andrea Menard
"Little Hawk" (2007), Little Hawk
"Alberta: Wild Roses, Northern Lights" (2006), Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Many others...

Set List

Asani has a repertoire to perform for approximately a 90 minute set. This would include songs from "Rattle and Drum" as well as songs from their recently released compact disc "Listen". Most of the songs that Asani performs are original compositions and arrangements. They also pay tribute to other Aborigiinal women by performing such songs as "Starwalker" by Buffy St. Marie and "Myma Deer Song" by Jennifer Kreisberg