Hay River will be hearing music from Down Under later this month at the Riverview Cineplex.
Two singer-songwriters from Australia will be visiting the community for a concert on Feb. 28 as part of a performance series by the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) in Yellowknife.
The visiting musicians will be Shane Howard and Yirrmal Marika.
“Shane Howard in Australia is like a superstar,” said Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director with NACC. “He’s one of the most influential singer-songwriters over there.”
Coderre noted that a big part of Howard’s life has been dedicated to working with Indigenous artists in Australia and building bridges between cultures in a meaningful way.
She also noted that Howard once sang for Nelson Mandela and is a member of the Order of Australia.
Marika is a young Indigenous artist who combines traditional and contemporary music.
Coderre noted Marika, who is from the Northern Territory of Australia, has a powerful voice.
“It’s a very different voice than Shane Howard,” she said, adding that the two voices still complement each other. “They both have different stories, too. They are both from different backgrounds.”
Coderre noted they perform together on stage, and it is a “beautiful symbol” of what reconciliation should look like.
“So it has a strong political aspect into it, I find, and having two different musical influences together it’s going to be quite something, and they’re both very poetic and musical in the folk tradition,” she said. “I look forward to seeing them.”
Coderre said she was in touch with Howard’s agent in Canada for about two years trying to arrange a visit to the NWT.
“And for him to go to different communities in the North is very, very special because he wants to meet with the Indigenous people from Canada, and he wants to create a connection. There are so many parallels between the different Indigenous people in the different parts of the world,” she said. “So I think it’s going to be a very, very special sharing experience between the community members.”
Along with Hay River, Howard and Marika will visit Norman Wells, Yellowknife, Inuvik, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson.
“It’s going to be a treat for a lot of people across the territory,” said Coderre. “I hope we’re going to have a really good attendance because it’s rare we can get international acts like that in the communities where we go.”
In Hay River, the performance will be at Riverview Cineplex, and Coderre noted there will be only 126 seats available.
The performance will be the final NACC show in Hay River until September.