Home Feature The North Sound And Sultans Of String team up on ‘Sweet Alberta’

The North Sound And Sultans Of String team up on ‘Sweet Alberta’

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“Sweet Alberta” is the new single off the Sultans of String album Walking Through the Fire, the most ambitious and important project of their career, a CD and concert of collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island. The song started as a poem penned by Grammy nominated Chippewa/Anishinaabe elder Dr. Duke Redbird and set to music by Chris McKhool and the Sultans.

This track features the gorgeous vocals of The North Sound, formed in 2014 by lead singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Forrest Eaglespeaker along with his wife Nevada Eaglespeaker who composes and provides vocal harmonies.

Keeping true to the traditions of Forrest’s heritage, The North Sound was created to share stories of Forrest’s Blackfoot identity and traditions from Treaty 7 Territory. This track was perfectly suited to these award-winning artists, with their connection to the land.

Says Forrest: “I’m originally from Calgary, and now I live in Saskatoon with my wife, Nevada, and our kids and our horses and our cat and dog. My family comes from the Kainai Nation, which is in Treaty Seven. It’s Blackfoot people, the Blood Tribe. I have a strong connection to the territory but it’s important for me to identify as unregistered and non-status, due to intergenerational traumas.”

The connection to the land and music goes way back for Forrest: “My grandmother had this John Denver’s Greatest Hits CD, and it never left her vehicle. There’s a line in ‘Country Roads,’ and he says, ‘Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountain, Shenandoah River.’ And so, on first listen through this song, how Duke had so eloquently used the term Blue Ridge, it just immediately brought me to sitting in my grandma’s car in Calgary and brought me back to my childhood and immediately, the imagery that Duke painted with his lyrics, that’s what I grew up with. Like I felt like the song was written from my childhood.”

Duke wrote the original poem when he lived in Alberta, in a time of extreme turmoil in Canada. “The Indigenous people were being really oppressed, especially in Alberta.

There was actual starvation going on in many of the communities in the North, that couldn’t get food” he explained.

“The timber companies had gotten leases for forestry, which caused the moose and the elk and the deer and other food creatures to move away. And many of these communities were at the brink of starvation. It was real, it was the middle of winter, and the stores, the food that was supposed to have been delivered by the Federal Government through the Provincial Government just went missing.” he continued.

“But at that time, one chief by the name of Chief Small Boy decided to leave the Cree Reserve out there, and he took almost 300 followers with him into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and the foothills of the Kootenai Mountains, and set up camp, and began to live off the land.”

And they invited Duke to come along.

Duke learned from that period of time that he was there with the Indigenous people of Alberta, having the experience of what it must have been like before the settlers came in.

“Out there in the foothills and getting up in the morning and giving thanks to the sun and the prayers that were… The community was connected in a relationship of love to the Mother Earth. And I thought about the fact that the province had been named Alberta, a woman’s name, but it was an English woman’s name. And I thought if their relationship with the province was the love that one has for Mother Earth, and by extension a beautiful woman, then they may have a chance to take care of that land.”

See Sultans Of String live:

  • June 17 – University of Waterloo
  • June 21 – Old Town Hall, Newmarket
  • June 22 – Hugh’s Room Live, Toronto

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