Jeremy Dutcher joins the HPO on Saturday, October 22 at 7:30pm to perform music from his 2018 debut album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (arranged for orchestra by Lucas Waldin), and new works (arranged for orchestra by Owen Pallett).
Get to know more about Dutcher before he takes the FirstOntario Concert Hall stage! Five titles – Musicologist, Operatic tenor, Community Member, Two-spirit and Activist – help paint a portrait of this multidimensional and multi-talented artist, showing how these aspects of Jeremy Dutcher‘s identity intersect, overlap and harmonize. Learn even more about Jeremy Dutcher by clicking the links at the bottom of each section!
Jeremy Dutcher is a Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. His local Indigenous language Wolastoqey/Maliseet being among our nation’s many endangered languages, Jeremy is passionate about using music to preserve language and culture.
This interest led him to pursue a research project at the Canadian Museum of History where he transcribed archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs. Recorded on wax cylinders between 1907 and 1913, most of these songs were no longer being passed between generations, and Jeremy wanted to bring them home. He began writing piano lines around these recorded melodies and expanding them until he had created complete works, weaving the voices of his ancestors singing, talking and laughing into what became his debut LP, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS PROCESS:
Read about Jeremy’s fascinating process with the archival recordings in this 2018 Q&A from Billboard.com.
THE OPERATIC TENOR
Jeremy Dutcher is a theater kid turned operatic tenor, studying music at Dalhousie University before switching lanes into anthropology. His well-trained voice is now an accessible channel carrying songs and messages from the past into the present and future. At the same time, his classical repertoire serves as a frame of reference, influencing some of the melodies on his first album and interwoven with the traditional Wolastoq songs.
His innovative and evocative blending of Indigenous language and melody with operatic vocals and western instruments – mainly piano, upright bass and string quartet – powered a quick rise to fame and recognition. Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa earned him the Polaris Music Prize in 2018 and a Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year in 2019 and has since been arranged for orchestra.
THE COMMUNITY MEMBER
Jeremy’s passion for language preservation stems from his community and upbringing. His mother Lisa Perley-Dutcher was one of many Indigenous children who attended Day Schools where speaking her language was punished. While the language still existed in the Dutcher home, his mother was no longer fluent. And with Jeremy’s inspiration and encouragement, his mother Lisa Perley-Dutcher quit her job to study Wolastoqey for two years before working toward her new dream: opening the first Wolastoqey immersion school in New Brunswick.
His elder Maggie Paul was also a hugely influential guide in his life and music. She has known Jeremy for his entire life and was the first to point him in the direction of the archival recordings of their traditional songs. “This is her story as much as it’s my story,” says Dutcher. With Maggie’s help, Jeremy Dutcher was able to bring the songs of his people back to his community to be enjoyed in a new, never before heard way.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MAGGIE PAUL:
Read CBC’s feature on Maggie Paul and the recordings.
Jeremy Dutcher proudly identifies as queer and two-spirit, and some may have seen his appearance as a guest judge on season 3 of Canada’s Drag Race that aired during the summer of 2022. He is passionate about indigenizing queer spaces, making room for individuals to be their full, multidimensional selves – to belong to multiple communities at once. After dawning a daring performance outfit of just high-waisted boxer briefs and a long sheer black cape during his 2018 Polaris Music Prize performance, he explained his reasoning behind the fashion choice on CBC’s Unreserved: “What kind of images would have been really helpful or useful for me to see as a young Indigenous person growing up in rural New Brunswick? What would that have felt like to be able to turn on the television and see big, brown bodies taking up space?”
LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS SELF-EXPRESSION AND IDENTITY:
Listen to Jeremy’s 2021 interview on CBC’s Unreserved, or read the article, which includes videos from his Polaris and Juno performances.
Jeremy Dutcher was also the 2019 Juno Award winner in the category of Indigenous Music Album of the Year and used his acceptance speech to relay a call to action to the Canadian government around Truth and Reconciliation. His message was cut short when music started to ‘play him off the stage’ before he could finish speaking, but was invited back up to the microphone by the final award-winners of the night, The Arkells, to finish his speech. This was an unforgettable moment where Jeremy used his position within the Indigenous cultural renaissance and his platform in the Canadian music scene to demand accountability, transparency and respect from the Canadian government while expressing hope for better relations between these communities in the future. This act – paired with him being given the podium a second time to continue sharing his message – serves as a powerful example of what truth and reconciliation can look like.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS SPEECH:
Watch Jeremy reflect on his Juno speech in this YouTube video.
Don’t miss Jeremy Dutcher & The HPO on October, 22 at 7:30 pm at FirstOntario Concert Hall! Join us before the concert at 6:30pm for our Inside the Music: Pre-Concert Talk with Jeremy Dutcher and Conductor Lucas Waldin.