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NNSL Photo/Graphic

Colville Lake's Michelle Orlias was one of 40 contributors to the recently published Dene Heroes of the Sahtu. From left, David Codzi, president of the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation, Michelle Orlias and Mary-Anne Neal, editor. - photo courtesy of Jerry Huculak
Library of heroes
Book celebrates heroes of the Sahtu region

Jaydon Kakfwi says when he was asked to make a contribution to a new book honouring Dene heroes, he knew exactly who he would choose.
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Musician explores darkness and light in song

Nick Jackson's offers endearing depiction of Yellowknife in new album
Robin Grant
Northern News Services

Singer-songwriter Nick Jackson says the inspiration for his debut album came from the harsh reality of living in the North.

nnsl file photo

Singer-songwriter Nick Jackson finds inspiration in the challenges people face living in the North, but his songs are also about perseverance and optimism. On Dec. 23, he released his debut album, Rectify. - photo courtesy of Nick Jackson

The album, called Rectify, was released on Dec. 23. It is a collection of songs about the darker side of Yellowknife - drug addiction, incarceration, even death. But the album is also about perseverance, optimism and "getting through whatever hell you are going through," according to Jackson.

The 24-year-old musician describes his style as folk and indie-rock music with a southern flare. He said his songwriting is like a journal that gets him through the long Yellowknife winters and "expresses the meaning of whatever craziness is going on."

Six years ago, Jackson got his start performing in front of an audience at the Javaroma jams on Saturday nights. From that experience, he met professional musicians who helped him carve his way into the industry and other performance venues, such as the Cellar and Twist.

"This could only have happened Yellowknife," he said. "It's a very, very tight-knit community - everyone was willing to give me an opportunity."

Many of his songs, he said, are about people he knows or has known personally growing up.

"It's kind of a tip of the hat, an homage to them, and a glimpse into a time in my life," he said.

Singing and songwriting are not the only aspects of being a musician he finds appealing.

Jackson said he loves seeing other people's reactions to his work and how they interpret his songs.

Last November, for instance, he performed in Wekweeti for National Addictions Awareness Week, where almost the entire community showed up, including chiefs, elders and children.

There, he received a lot of feedback about his songs.

"That, to me, is what songwriting is about," he said.

Another time he experienced a memorable connection with his audience was during a performance at the Gold Range where he sang one of his favourite songs, Poor Charlie. The song is about Charlie Delorme, a residential school survivor who spent about 40 years living on the street downtown. He made national news in 2013 after he donated a significant portion of his residential school settlement money to the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation, the Salvation Army and SideDoor Youth Centre. Delorme died at his home in November 2013.

"A woman came up to me crying and said Charlie was her cousin - she said he'd be very honoured. It was a very special moment," said Jackson.

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