Singer-songwriter Leanne Goose is taking her brand of “Arctic cool” to the southern United States.
The Inuvik-based Goose has played from as far north as Ulukhaktok, NT to as far south as Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she will be appearing for the third time later this month at the Gathering of Nations.
“The Gathering of Nations is one of the highlights of my year. Not only do I get to meet new friends, but I also get to reach out to people I’ve met in years past,” said Goose, an Inuvialuit-Dene artist. “I also have the opportunity to see up-and-coming indigenous talent not just from North America, but also from Australia and New Zealand. It’s the largest gathering of indigenous people on this continent at this time.”
Goose played at the 2009 and 2011 Gathering of Nations, an event attracting tens of thousands of people from more than 500 Aboriginal groups around the world. Having the chance to see and hear indigenous talent from across the globe can’t be beat, she said.
On stage in Albuquerque, Goose and her guitar will be backed by Chris Sumruld (lead guitar), Adrian Wall (bass, traditional flute, guitar), Rama Kim (percussion) and special guests Case Tanner (lap steel) and Lee Mandeville (fiddle).
The life of a musician isn’t an easy one, but some are born to live it. The singer-songwriter was “in the band” almost from the time she was born. With a musical father who has been performing country-rock for the last 50 years, Goose took to the stage with her father for the first time when she was 12 years old.
Beginning her career performing cover songs in house bands, Goose played regularly into her early twenties before taking a five-year break to start a family. Five years ago, she re-emerged writing and recording her own original country-blues songs, with her first album Anywhere. To date, she and her band have recorded two albums, which have received nine album nominations to date. A third album is currently in the works.
Travelling and touring is a big change from her time in cover bands. Because of the costs of travelling through and out of the North, she works hard and has to scrimp and save to make opportunities happen.
“It takes a lot more dedication, and you have to approach it like a business,” Goose said of being a singer-songwriter. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun and I absolutely love it. I wish I could be on the road more than I am right now, but I had to understand this is a business and I have to treat it as such.”
Still, Goose spends about three months of every year on the road. With festivals and venues going through tough times, she has seen a reduction in the number of opportunities available to musicians, but it hasn’t interrupted her touring schedule. Nor has it hurt her success. She’s actively touring, and her song You’re No Damn Good from her second album Got You Covered rose to number nine on the Aboriginal Top 30 chart in early April.
Describing her music as country-blues with an edge of “Arctic cool,” Goose takes much of her influence from musicians like Norah Jones, Sam Cooke, Ma Rainy, Rita Chiarelli and Hank Williams, but she’s also deeply affected by her northern roots. She plans to record a song dedicated to residential school survivors, an MP3 of which will be made available for free to them.
Goose was among the last generation of her family to attend Inuvik residential school Grollier Hall. The song, Never Forget, was inspired by a family member’s story and the deep wounds that arose from residential school experiences. It was something she had to explain to her own children to understand the far-reaching impacts it had on survivors.
“And it was really difficult, but they understood how this attitude and behaviour came to be. That night, I had a dream, and in that dream were the lyrics of the song. I wrote it down and there it is,” Goose said.
A YouTube video of her performing the song live is on her website (www.leannegoose.com). Goose plans to enter the studio to record Never Forget soon.
In addition to two shows at the 29th Annual Gathering of Nations on April 27 and 28, Goose is also scheduled to perform at the South Slave Friendship Festival in Fort Smith on August 25.