An indigenous music group with members originating from Frog Lake First Nation hope to inspire indigenous youth. Their recent Grammy Award nomination and red carpet performance came with an experience the group will never forget.
Young Spirit Singers plays traditional pow-wow style music with musicians from across North America. Originally started in 2001, the group consisted of members from Frog Lake First Nation. The group now has 16 members who travel to play their music.
Jacob Faithful, who was at an Airbnb in Saskatoon, didn’t expect the group’s album “Mewasinsational – Cree Round Dance Songs” to be nominated for in the regional roots music category.
“I woke up one morning at 7:30 a.m., getting ready to go for work. My phone just started to go off. Missed calls, missed text messages, missed messages on Facebook,” says Faithful.
He didn’t pay much attention to his phone, thinking it had something to do with work. Until he looked at a screenshot of Grammy nominations sent from a friend.
“I was kind of scratching my head, and asked what is this? Is this like a submission? He was like ‘no, you’re nominated for a Grammy. Pack your bags, you’re going to sunny L.A.’ and I was like what? I was pretty shocked,” says Faithful.
The group made it to the awards show but didn’t anticipate a Rolls Royce limousine arranged for them by Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union. They stood beside artists like Drake, Shawn Mendez and Ariana Grande. Soon the group, drums in hand, were asked if they could perform right there on the red carpet.
Upon starting their song all eyes were on them. Celebrities came up to tell them how much they enjoyed their music and asked to get a picture with them. Faithful’s 16-year-old son, Jarron Gadwa, is the youngest member of the group. He wasn’t familiar with some of the famous people he was surrounded by.
“Kevin from The Backstreet Boys came up and grabbed my son’s arm, and said he’d been touched by our performance. My son doesn’t really know The Backstreet Boys, he was looking at him confused and tried to walk away,” says Faithful. He adds that he was confused when celebrities started asking them for pictures, thinking it’s usually the other way around.
The group’s performance on the Grammy’s red carpet brought recognition from many high profile people. Though the group did not win the Grammy, it was surely a night they won’t be forgetting. Faithful hopes that this experience isn’t their last, and wants to see other indigenous people recognized on the red carpet.
“I sure hope there are other First Nations artists that will end up on the red carpet, and God willing we’ll end up there again too.”
Young Spirit Singers get their name from their goal of inspiring indigenous youth. The group’s mandate is about empowering First Nations youth and creating pride in their traditional music. Ultimately, Faithful hopes his group signals to indigenous youth that they can achieve recognition for their culture and traditions if they’re willing to put in the work.
“We want to create a sense of pride so that they do pick up the drum, they do pick up the drumstick and they do sing out traditional music. I want them to realize that it’s important for our communities to be proud, to sing our own language and sing our songs that have been sung for generations. If you have a passion for singing, dancing or traditional culture, traditional song and dance, don’t ever forget the passion. Don’t ever forget where you come from.”
Faithful hopes his group paves a way for other indigenous youth to find success through traditional art. They’re playing in Swift Current, Sask. this weekend and have another date in Lethbridge, Alta. next weekend.