Award-Winning Métis singer/songwriter Celeigh Cardinal Coming to Vancouver Folk Fest

By Rachel Rosenberg

Métis singer/songwriter Celeigh Cardinal’s career is really taking off.   She sings with a powerful, bluesy force that resonates with a timeless quality — serenading audiences with joy and sadness that could come from any era. Her latest album, Stories from a Downtown Apartment, combines heartfelt, clever lyrics with lush harmonies. Her first full-length album, Everything and Nothing at All, combines the richness of her voice with a slightly rockier bounce.

Celeigh keeps building up accolades and awards: she won 2018’s Western Canadian Music Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year and is nominated for 2019 as well; received a CBC Indigenous Music nomination for best pop album for Everything and Nothing at All; was nominated for 8 Edmonton Music Awards and won two of the big ones — Female Artist of the Year and Indigenous Recording of the Year. She’s been touring the US, Canada and internationally and  now we are lucky enough to be getting her here in Vancouver, where she’ll be performing at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. The three-day event, falling between July 19-21 at Jericho Beach Park, will feature her at 10 am and 5 pm on Saturday, and again on Sunday at 11 am.

How long have you been performing, and did you always know that you wanted to pursue music as a career?

I started performing very young — at 4 yrs old — and always knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. I consider myself to be lucky that I’ve known for so long it was my “calling”. Initially it came from a place of “worship” as I am formerly religious, but it evolved into completely different pursuit over the years. Now music for me is therapy, expression, release and healing. Still with a pretty heavy focus on love, but in a completely different and more free way.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

Welllll…just the other day Jann Arden saw me performing with my trio and gave me a shoutout at this convention center in Edmonton. I called my mother immediately and we both cried. That’s a pretty big moment for me. I was short of breath and beaming. But I would say I’ve had a lot of really great moments, joining the radio station CKUA in Alberta as an on-air host has been a huge highlight for me, I now have this platform to share Indigenous artists and lesser known artists who are making incredible music and deserve to be heard.

What advice do you have for aspiring songwriters?

Something I’d definitely recommend to aspiring songwriters is to attempt to be more objective when writing and editing your music. I’m learning to be less emotionally invested in my songs and make the choices that serve the song best. When co-writing, you have to be open to critiques or suggestions — that is so important. Great things can come from these kinds of compromises. At the same time, do stay true to yourself — a challenge to balance, but a great lesson.

You’re traveling quite a lot this summer for your Stories summer tour, what do you do to take care of yourself when you’re away from home?

My self-care routine includes giving myself as much alone time as humanly possible. I am equal parts extrovert and introvert, so I have to get that recharging time. I also have to attend to my vocal routine daily and I try (I really try) to get to the hotel gym as often as possible.

What music inspires you?

Music created with passion inspires me. I listen to pretty much everything: classical, hip hop, roots, chill wave, Motown, etc. Right now, this minute, Lizzo is my number one queen.

What performers are you excited to watch at the Folk Fest?

I am most excited to see Joey Landreth and Riit. Can’t wait even!

Get your Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2019 tickets here.


Rachel Rosenberg is a writer and library technician who is a proud member of the LGBTQ2+ community. She writes for Book Riot and can be found on Twitter @LibraryRachelR

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