Wolastoq composer and vocal artist Jeremy Dutcher is the latest artist to join the RPM Records roster.
Trained as an operatic tenor, and fluent in his Wolastoqey language, Jeremy’s music artfully blends Western classical and Indigenous sounds by combining the operatic power of his voice with melodies and archival recordings from his Wolastoq (Maliseet) Nation. Jeremy prioritizes the Wolastoqey language in his music in hopes of inspiring other young Maliseets to learn this endangered language.
Jeremy’s forthcoming single, “Honor Song”, re-envisions and reimagines a well-known honour song from his nation.
“I first learned the honour song from Maggie Paul (Sitansisk First Nation)”, Dutcher says, “It was always sung when Wolastoqiyik gathered. The words talk about the importance of unity among Indigenous Peoples and our duty to help each other to protect the land. I came to learn the origins of this chant as I came to know its creator, George Paul. He received it in ceremony and gifted it to the Wabanakiyik (East Coast peoples). Though it is most well-known in Míkmawísimk (the Mi’kmaw language), it was translated into my language by a group of elders at Neqotkuk First Nation. I’m so grateful George has allowed me to put my own voice and stamp on this amazing melody.”
Produced with Montreal-based artist, Bufflo, the single features a soaring arrangement of vocals, strings, piano, hand drum, and electronics.
“This song is a rallying cry”, he says, “and I hope my interpretation of this iconic melody can be an anthem for another generation of cultural warriors and land protectors.”
Mi’kmaq artist Jordan Bennett created the beautiful artwork for the single, which incorporates Mi’kmaq and Maliseet aesthetics across generations, through quill work, hieroglyphs, and carving to express language and story.
“At bottom, there is a symbol used in hieroglyphs to represent the earth, transformed to resemble keys and bass clefs”, says Jordan. “The main design is known as the ‘double rainbow’ design, one of the oldest known and still remembered quillwork designs from our respective nations. In the centre are designs found on the edges of our baskets, a language in its own respect, made with spruce root or quill. In one of the rainbows are lines to indicate the conclusion of the composition. While at top the sky ‘dome’ design shows the breath of life, or a tree bursting out the top, with the dome curls replaced with musical notes. The top of this image represent the poles of a wigwam, indicating looking up through the hole in a wigwam, and leading to the holes are small puffs of smoke to represent words, song and prayers making their way up.”
Jeremy is currently working on his debut release Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (Our Maliseet Songs) slated for release Winter 2018.