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Alanis Obomsawin : Legendary singer, composer and filmmaker

As part of Suoni Per Il Popolo

Acclaimed Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin is also a talented singer-songwriter whose seminal solo album “Bush Lady” was recently rediscovered and finally given the attention it deserves, partly thanks to the reissue published by Constellation Records, in June 2018. Long before joining the NFB as a documentary filmmaker, Obomsawin was already singing and performing in schools, prisons, and various venues all across the country. She was also responsible for putting on concerts featuring other prominent Indigenous artists at festivals such as the James Bay Festival (which is documented in her NFB film Amisk) and The Mariposa Festival held in Toronto every summer (as seen in Our Dear Sisters). In November 2017, Alanis Obomsawin was invited to make a long overdue comeback on stage following the invitation of local musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh at the festival Le Guess Who? In the Netherlands.

Amisk by Alanis Obomsawin ⎮ 1977 ⎮ 40 min

In 1977, the James Bay Festival took place over nine days in Montreal. This historic one-of-a-kind event was held in support of the James Bay Cree whose territory, resources and culture were threatened by the expansion of hydro-electric dams. First Nations, Métis and Inuit performers came from across North America to show their support in an act of Indigenous unity and solidarity few people in Montreal had ever witnessed.

Our Dear Sisters by Kathleen Shannon ⎮ 1975 ⎮ 40 min

Alanis Obomsawin, a North American Abenaki who earns her living by singing and making films, is the mother of an adopted child. She talks about her life, her people, and her responsibilities as a single parent. Her observations shake some of our cultural assumptions.

A Portrait of Alanis Obomsawin by Charles André Coderre ⎮ 2017 ⎮ 2 min

Alanis Obomsawin performed at Le Guess Who? in 2017. Charles André Coderre (from Jerusalem In My Heart) directed this short video portrait of the artist for the occasion.

Alanis Obomsawin : Odana Live in Utrecht by Le Guess Who? ⎮ 2017 ⎮ 6 min
Alanis Obomsawin : Bush Lady Live in Utrecht by Le Guess Who? ⎮ 2017 ⎮ 12 min

Filmmaker and songwriter Alanis Obomsawin performed songs from her 1985 album ‘Bush Lady’ live for the first time at Le Guess Who? 2017, featuring music of the Native American Abenaki people. The performance was curated by Jerusalem In My Heart.