5Sherryl Sewepagaham is Cree-Dene from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. She is a singer, hand drummer, music therapist in-training, music teacher, and composer.

Her album…

Sherryl’s solo album Splashing the Water Loudly was released on October 5, 2014. Co-produced by TD Grand Jazz Award winner Chris Andrew, the album features the elements of jazz piano, traditional hide drum, Cuban percussion, soaring cello and soulful harmonies. There’s also a spicy duet with Métis singer-songwriter Wayne Lavallee, and an Aboriginal children’s choir. The thoughtfully-composed songs place one foot in Sherryl’s traditional land and the other in the contemporary Western world, and the Cree lyrics expose her heart, her thoughts and a quiet, passionate activism for her people. Select songs from the album can be heard on APTN’s Chaos and Courage documentary series’ second season, which began to air in January 2015.

Her composing…

Sherryl has composed a number of pieces for other people and productions. She composed the theme song “Music Alive/Vive la Musique!” for the National Arts Centre’s Music Alive Program, and created music for the screen. Sherryl is the mind behind “Ninanaskomitin” for the live-animation short film How the Spirit Moves, and an unnamed piece for the Mother Earth & Me cartoon pilot trailer. She is continuously composing new traditional children’s drum, rattle and stick songs to share with students during her school visits.

Her education background…

Sherryl holds a Bachelor of Education (Music Education) from the University of Alberta and is pursuing a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Capilano University. Education and youth are passions for Sherryl; she’s worked extensively as an Aboriginal Music Consultant for Edmonton Catholic Schools, elementary music teacher for Edmonton Public Schools and conductor for two children’s choirs. She is a certified Orff Specialist (music education methodology) through Carl Orff Canada, and is learning Spanish, alongside her Cree language. She’s been Artist-In-Residence at many urban education and music conferences. Sherryl recently created an educational document entitled, All My Relations: Celebrating Canada’s Indigenous Peoples – Teacher Guide for the National Arts Centre’s Music Alive education program to be used by Canadian educators.

Her voice coaching…

Sherryl’s passion for working with children and youth is expressed in many ways, including through voice coaching. She was invited to teach and coach young singers in Laxgalts’ap Village First Nations community in northern British Columbia in 2014, and to the Words of Our Ancestors Project in 2013 as a Contemporary Vocal Instructor. She shared her language songwriting and vocal coaching skills at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s Lethbridge summer workshop in 2010 as a Cultural Instructor of Song Creation, and at Manitoba’s Aboriginal Music Program in 2007. Sherryl also teaches cultural drum songs to both adults and children in the Vancouver area.

Her award-winning trio…

As co-founding member and co-songwriter, Sherryl has sung with Edmonton-based, Aboriginal women’s trio, Asani for nearly 20 years and contributed her vocals and skilled harmonies to the trio’s collection of traditionally-based, contemporary Cree and English drum and rattle songs. Their distinctive sound highlights the tri-interwoven melodic and rhythmic lines while maintaining the traditional sounds of heartbeat drums and chanting voices. Asani has travelled the world, playing in Finland, France, South Africa and all around North America. Major stages included New York’s Carnegie Hall, Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute and The Kennedy Centre, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Calgary Folk Festival, the Lunenburg Festival (Nova Scotia), and the Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon. Performance highlights include singing for his Holiness the Dalai Lama, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, and performing the Canadian and the American national anthems at an Edmonton Oilers game. Asani were nominated for many awards for both their albums, Rattle & Drum (2005) and Listen (2008). They received nominations for the 2006 Juno Awards for Aboriginal Recording of the Year and 2005 Western Canadian Music Awards, and received awards for 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award, an Indian Summer Music Award, a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award for Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots album, and were inducted into the Canadian A Cappella Hall of Fame.