Singing the Metis Story

Article excerpt

The Valley of Green and Blue

DON FREED

Walnut Street Music Company, 2005

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"Recently, I have been telling stories and singing songs to school
children. When I ask the groups gathered before me how many of them are
Metis, I am pleased to see hands rise. There was once a dark and
difficult time when this would not happen. It is to those generations
who could not raise their hands that this recording is dedicated."
--Don Freed, from his website introduction to his CD, The Valley of
Green and Blue

With this introduction Freed says a great deal about this particular recording and the larger musical project he has been involved with over the past decades, both of which reflect and make a contribution to the ongoing renaissance and resurrection of Metis identity. The Valley of Green and Blue captures Freed's determination to give voice to Metis history and culture--and manages to be damn fine music, too.

Freed's approach to music helps put this latest contribution in context. He clearly understands that identity-making requires history, shared "myths" and a space to participate in what must ultimately be a living thing--the production and reproduction of a distinct identity. Over the past decade-and-a-half he has committed his energies to this task, traveling to northern Native communities in the prairies to conduct song-writing workshops that involve students in writing and performing their own music. Freed was moved to action by the negative representations of Aboriginal youth in the mainstream media. As he notes on his website, "It seemed that any time you heard about Northern youth there was always tragedy attached to the stories, so I've got them to express themselves and their cultures and brought out a positive story. …