For Yellowknife musician Kiera Kolson, society is entering into a new age.
Kiera Kolson's debut album, Dawning of a New Era, will be released soon. - photo courtesy of Kiera Kolson
She said right now is a time of re-emergence for aboriginal culture in the mainstream but the living memory of residential schools and the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered aboriginal women still lingers.
These are the issues Kolson digs into on her debut rap and R&B album - she wants to empower, engage and educate others and won't shy away from controversy to do it. The album's title, Dawning of a New Era, also draws on these themes.
"I would describe it as my approach to modern day storytelling from the perspective of a young Dene woman," Kolson said. "Love, loss and revolution."
She said hip hop and R&B are the genres she's always performed, although she loves all music.
She wrote poetry when she was younger to help cope with things going on in her life back then and said she likes working with beats because she can give other people's work new life.
This album, said Kolson, has been a long time coming and is something she paid for herself, chipping away at it financially for three years.
"It's kind of a big deal for me because it's something I've driven towards and never given up on," she said.
The album will be available on her website soon, but she wasn't able to provide an exact date as of press time. It was recorded and mastered in Winnipeg.
Kolson was once told great art should make people uncomfortable, which is something she's worked toward in the making of this album. One of the songs is directly about missing and murdered aboriginal women.
"(Artists) have the power to convey sometimes somewhat confrontational issues in a non-confrontational space," she said. "People look at art and they're more receptive."
Kolson has long been a world-travelling musician. Prior to releasing this album, she sang on Parliament Hill for the Sisters in Spirit campaign, performed in Haiti in 2006 for Yelefest and represented the Northwest Territories for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games in Kenai, Ala.
According to her online biography, she has been singing since she was four-years old.
Kolson believes there is a potential for aboriginal culture to harnass great power in mainstream music. She believes aboriginal musicians have an opportunity to channel their dehumanizing past into music that is appreciated for its authenticity. This is something she hopes her new work will contribute to.
"There have been a number of performances when people have come up to me afterwards crying," she said. "I just hope when people hear this, it inspires them. They feel something."