Kalan Wi earn Western Canadian Music Awards nod 

Mount Currie group blends Lil'wat language with reggae beat

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Award nominees Mount Currie reggae roots group Kalan Wi was recently nominated for their second major award of the year.
  • photo submitted
  • Award nominees Mount Currie reggae roots group Kalan Wi was recently nominated for their second major award of the year.

Mount Currie's Kalan Wi is reaping the rewards of its first album Celebrate with a nomination in the 2013 Western Canadian Music Awards to follow their big win at the Native American Music Awards.

The band, which blends reggae roots and homegrown traditional Lil'wat Nation singing, was nominated in the World Music category, along with three other B.C. bands and one from Manitoba. Winners will be announced in Calgary on October 6.

And Kalan Wi took Best Historical Linguistic recording at the Native American Music Awards in Niagara Falls, New York in May. They were also nominated for Best World Music.

Drummer and backing vocalist Richard Doucet took time out of a busy Aboriginal Day weekend of gigs in Vancouver and Langley to talk about the accolades and upcoming plans.

"I'm thrilled with the nomination in the World Music category because it makes us broader and we get our music out to a wider audience," he said.

Doucet is a transplanted Nova Scotian who played the Whistler music scene for years before Kalan Wi was formed in 2007. The rest of the band are all Lil'wat Nation members: Leroy Joe is the main songwriter, vocals and guitar; Vania Stager sings vocals; and Russell Wallace is on vocals and hand drum. Recently, the band also added a drummer and bassist, Doucet said.

"Culturally, I'm the only white guy in the band but it's not something we think about. We just do our music. We're very open and we try to have no barriers, and we want people to know that," he said.

Since Celebrate was released a year ago, Kalan Wi has been finding new avenues and audiences for its music. DJ Cal Koat at the online podcast, World Beat Canada Radio, has turned into a real champion for the band.

"Cal really likes our music and he slips us into his show a lot. I've heard us between African and Hawaiian music. And a few stations listen to him and they've picked us up, too," Doucet said.

"We're inclusive and positive in our songs and we want them to be uplifting. It's always nice to keep people dancing. There's a flexibility between aboriginal and world music that is getting us into different kinds of gigs. It's a really nice niche to be in with great venues."

Doucet said the band was particularly happy to have been recently selected to be included in the ArtsStarts in Schools program, which brings artists into British Columbian classrooms.

"We were selected as one of 30 bands out of 100 who auditioned for provincial school board attendants at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver," he added. "Now we are getting requests coming in from schools all over B.C. to come up and play for them. It's awesome."

Two new songs have been written this year, including "This is our Song," a tribute to the young Cree walkers who walked 1,000km earlier this year from Northern Quebec to Ottawa as a part of the Idle No More movement. Doucet hopes the tribute will be part of a new album in 2014.

Kalan Wi recently performed in Whistler at the Canada Day Celebrations at Whistler Olympic Plaza. They are also booked to play at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre during the Spirit Within Festival in September.

"The SLCC is like our home venue," Doucet laughed, explaining that they sometimes play corporate events there.



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