I am naturally a fan of Canadian music but I am particularly sensitized to identifying new music because a hallmark of my indoor cycling classes is my use of at least one song by a Canadian artist in each class.
In November 2013 I was driving to Maine and I heard the end of a song on CBC radio. When the announcer said the name of the artist I repeated it over and over until my next stop so I that I could write it down. It was Tanya Tagaq and the song was Uja. I subsequently bought the album Animism and incorporated that song and others into my classes.
The album subsequently won the Polaris Music Prize for 2014. Tagaq's live performance at the awards ceremony was extraordinary. What you can't see from the video is that she projected the names of Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women on the screen behind her as she sang.
Last April she performed live with several collaborators in the CBC studio. I am haunted by this and listen to it often.
Her new album, Retribution, dropped this week. It is still possible to hear it for free on CBC First Play. Or check it out on iTunes. I may not be able to use any of it for my classes but I will definitely be listening to several of the songs. My current favourite is the title track, Retribution.
While Tagaq's music moves me I think I am drawn to her more because she has such a strong point of view and has not compromised that in her pursuit of a musical career. And she is brave. I heard her in an interview the other day when she said that she was intentionally not going to listen to a collaborator's input to a joint project because her part was going to be improvised. She would be unable to be spontaneous if she heard the direction he was taking the piece.