Award winning Metis singer/songwriter Arlette is a descendant of the Blackfoot and the Little Black Bear tribes. Her music stands out in its bold deliverance and her ongoing quest for peace, equality and justice. Her debut album Tribe of One has been featured on APTN, CBC Radio and is played daily on Northern Native Broadcasting.
Following the release of her second album, Wolfgirl, Arlette won Songwriter of the Year at the 2008 Native E Music Awards in New Mexico. In 2009, she was nominated for the Independent Songwriter Awards and was an Honor Award winner at the Great American Song Contest. In 2010, she was named Artist of the Month by the Indigenous Internet Chamber of Commerce. Arlette was a feature performer at the Night Hawk Aboriginal Music Festival, as well as the Celebration Metis, International Aboriginal Day, Missing Women's March and Oppenhiemer Park Christmas Celebration in Vancouver. She also received international airplay this year on Radio Crystal Blue in New York City and released a music video for the song NDN Auntie.
Arlette studied voice at the Saskatchewan Royal Conservatory of Music, as well as at the Banff Centre, where she contributed to the Songs of the Treeline showcase with Micah Barnes. In 2013 She was a highlight at the multicultural festival Tapestrama in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She is currently working on a new album with producers Glen Ens at Audio Arts Recording in Saskatchewan and Janet Panic in BC. Her new album is expected to be released at the end of 2017.
My maternal grandfather was plains Iroquois/Blackfoot. I'm told he was a tall, brooding man, who was quick to anger and a mean drunk. My Grandmother was French and Black Irish, haughty and beautiful. She died of Scarlett fever when my mother was just 3 months old. My father, who was French and Cree (Little Black Bear band), was born in Saskatchewan in 1913. He would tell me stories about his horse and his long braids. He lost both, as well as his childhood and innocence, when he was taken away from his family and put into a Catholic residential school.
As a result of childhood trauma and ongoing racism, both my parents fell to alcoholism, drug abuse and jail terms. They tried to start fresh, heading west and settling in Trail, British Columbia. It was there that I was born and raised. It was not an easy place to be a Metis. My parents taught me to be proud of my heritage and I would scrap anyone who called me names, but racism was rampant and I had to be very strong. I grew up angry and bitter. When I was about nine years old I found music to vent my pain and frustration, and began to sing and write songs. Many songs from Tribe of One reflect that time.
When I found out my family was from Saskatchewan I decided to see the prairies and it was then that I first felt like I belonged. I will never forget the time I played at a Friendship Center in Saskatoon. I looked into the audience and thought "These are my people, I'm home!"
My father died of lead poisoning and black lung 1979 when I was 6 months pregnant with my twin girls. My mother followed him in 1990 after suffering a heart attack in a skid row old folks home off East Hastings street in Vancouver. I never got to say goodbye. There has been much pain and injustice in my life, but I also have much to be grateful for. I have a beautiful home in Kelowna now. I also have a loving partner and I am a proud mother and grandmother. Although there is still a rough road ahead for the next generations it is with hope and optimism that I watch my children and grandchildren move into the future.
Learn more about Arlette here.