Ontario Presents and its member presenting organizations recognize the importance of presenting Indigenous artists, stories and culture as part of their presenting practice. As we continue to encourage the respectful presentation of Indigenous art, we will be featuring an Indigenous artist each month in our e-newsletter and blog. Our sincere thanks to Denise Bolduc for conceiving of and continuing to support this Spotlight Series. Spotlights are developed with the artist, and are intended simply to share the artist’s work and foster greater awareness and understanding of the strength and diversity of Indigenous art available in Ontario and beyond.
To kick off 2020, we spoke with singer-songwriter Nick Sherman
To get us started, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
My name is Nick Sherman and I grew up in a small town in Northwestern Ontario called Sioux Lookout, while spending a lot of time further north with my grandparents in North Caribou Lake First Nation.
Most of my music is inspired by the north, the isolation and some of the unique issues that come along with being so far from everything else. I also explore my own relationships, reflect on my own experiences as I navigate life and often see inspiration in my close friends and family. I really enjoy taking all of this and creating narratives that reflect it all in my songs.
Your first album (Drag Your Words Through) explored the best and worst days of four years in your life. Your third album (Made Of, released Nov 2019) explores Indigenous perspectives in Canada. Is it fair to say that your song writing has shifted from quite a personal, to a broader lens? How do you think your song writing has changed throughout your career?
I would say yes, my songwriting has definitely included a broader lens. It’s only fair to anyone listening and to myself that I write what I know and there is no way to avoid the issues that are prevalent living in the north.
Amongst the beauty of the forest and quiet moments there is a lot of trauma and injustice especially when it comes to young Indigenous students. That’s something that is constantly on my radar, and I see an urgency now more than ever to reach out to young people and extend lines of hope and help however possible.
My songwriting has certainly changed because of this throughout my career and in other ways. I make an effort to be more mindful in my songwriting and very much appreciate opportunities I have had to work with peers on my songwriting. I guess like anything my songs have evolved with me based on experiences like becoming a father, traveling and looking in my own backyard (figuratively…maybe literally sometimes).
You hosted a podcast about the making of your second album, Knives & Wildrice. Did that experience change your approach to making the third album?
Hosting the podcast for my second record was a lot of work but it was fun being so interactive with my audience during the process. However, I did appreciate not putting everything out for display this time around. This was a very personal record in a lot of ways and I needed the privacy to create it.
What’s next for you? Anything you would like to share about your next album or upcoming projects?
With the new record out and a great tour with my good friend GR Gritt under my belt, I’ll have some fun stuff to release over the winter, and more shows to announce in the new year!
How can people find out more or get in touch?
If anyone wants to listen or follow what I’m doing nicksherman.ca is the best place to find everything! Otherwise, you can find the new record Made Of on all streaming platforms!
Thank you to Nick for sharing with us!
Photo Credits: Chad Kirvan (Kirvan Photography).