In a world where almost everything — people, music, cultures — get labelled and slotted into simple categories, Cris Derksen represents a challenge. Originally from Northern Alberta, there is a line of chiefs from North Tall Cree reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s. She’s also a classically trained cellist and composer whose music braids the traditional and contemporary. Derksen weaves her classical background and her Aboriginal ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music. So — she is kind of in a category all her own.
For her third studio album, Orchestral Powwow, Cris paired up with Tribal Spirit music, traveled, researched, worked and collaborated with powwow groups across the country to create a cinematically symphonic and truly Aboriginal album. In her words “What excites me most about this project is bringing our Aboriginal music to the center of the European model and we as aboriginal artists lead the way with our drums and our heart beat to create new forms of music.” She expresses the intersections between the old and the new.
This is a singular artist creating music that challenges, enlightens. It’s unique, powerful — and coming to the VFMF this summer.