OUTREACH PROJECT: GRATITUDE

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Original Song by Anishinaabe Traditional Drummer & Singer Cory Campbell
Commissioned by the U of M Concert Choir, Dr. Catherine Robbins, Director

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Gratitude is a song dedicated to reconciliation and healing.

 

The song was made possible by a University of Manitoba Creative Works Grant. It is gifted here to all choral singers in Manitoba through MCA's website by Anishinaabe Traditional Drummer and Singer Cory Campbell and the University of Manitoba Concert Choir. Gratitude expresses a spirit of gratitude, or profound thanks, in the languages of the Traditional Peoples of Manitoba: Anishininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak, Anishinaabeg, and the Métis Nation.

Many teachings are gifted to singers and conductors through this publication. Cory relates his own understandings as well as teachings that have come to him in conversation with Language Keepers as he composed the song. Some of these teachings are provided by those who gifted their knowledge to the project. Tobacco was offered to Cory and to all of the Language Keepers who shared their time and knowledge.

The initial process of U of M Concert Choir learning the song from Cory occurred over many weeks. Through this experience, choristers were introduced to meaningful Indigenous ways of knowing and being. The videos and audio recordings of the teachings, as well as the performance of the song, are an invitation to all Manitobans to learn about the intention behind the project and to connect with each other, song-maker to singer, human to human.

Premiere of Gratitude, November 2019

by the U of M Concert Choir featuring Cory Campbell

The project leaders encourage choirs across the province to learn, share, and perform the song in rehearsals, concerts, classes, and out on the land in gratitude of the traditional peoples of Manitoba who have taken care of this land for so many generations.

Gratitude by Cory Campbell

TEACHINGS, SONG CONTEXT, BACKGROUND & MEANING

Please take time to listen to Cory speak about what the song means to him and how it came to him. He shares teachings of what it is to feel gratitude and to give thanks. Cory’s understandings are based on the teachings that have been given to him, all of which were given orally. How the teachings resonate with his spirit is how they are, in turn, presented. He strives to do his best in presenting an accurate account of these teachings.

LEARNING THE SONG

This is a unique publication in that it is not presented using Western notation. Rather, it honours and acknowledges the oral singing traditions inherent in Manitoba Indigenous cultures, and is an acknowledgement of spirit. As Cory says, “Spirits do not read. Spirits just do.”

 

The song is learned by listening and repeating, and engaging with the accompanying teachings. Conductors and teachers are encouraged to share the videos and recordings with choristers and take part in this rich oral tradition.

There is no set key or time signature as there would be in the Western notation system. Singers may begin on whatever note they are inspired or feel comfortable singing, and in a tempo that is upbeat but not rushed.

 

Tuning is not approached in the same manner as you would if associating with a particular key. In fact, the melody may even seem to shift very slightly in different renderings. Everyone is expressing their voice and the gathered spirit of the choir will determine how the song is realized. For example, the U of M Concert Choir sopranos and some altos chose to double up the octave as is tradition at Pow Wows. Other choirs may choose to do the same. Trust the choir’s spirit.

The Movement of Air
What is a Pushup?
Tempo and Time Signatures
Fading Off at the End of a Phrase

THE TEXT

Gratitude Song - Audio

Miigwetch (Anishininemowin/Oji-Cree)

Pidamaya do (Dakota)

Seh dzeh tah masicho (Sayisi Dene)

Marsi (Michif)

Ekosani (Inninew/Cree)

Miigwetch (Anishinaabemowin/Ojibwe)

Please note that spellings in the different languages can change slightly based on dialect or community. These spellings are a result of conversations between Cory and Language Keepers.

The statements of gratitude follow a North-South-North-South-North-South pattern. This was done intentionally by Cory in an effort to acknowledge that the North is often times forgotten and a balance must be achieved as we move toward reconciliation. Cory’s own heritage comes by way of Northern Canada.

Pronunciations - Spoken

Miigwetch
Pidamaya do
Seh dzeh tah masicho
Marsi (Dr. June Bruce)
Marsi (Louise McKay)
Ekosani

Pronunciations - Sung

Miigwetch
Pidamaya do
Seh dzeh tah masicho
Marsi
Ekosani

Click below to hear more about the meaning behind some of the phrases used in the song:

About Miigwetch
About Ekosani
About Seh dzeh tah masicho
About Marsi (Louise McKay)
About Marsi (Dr. June Bruce)

THANK YOU

We express gratitude to the Language Keepers who shared their knowledge with us:

Louise McKay & Dr. June Bruce, Michif Speakers

Gighibaa Nodin (deceased), Dakota Speaker

Carol MacDonald, Sayisi Dene Speaker

Frank Walker, Anishininemowin Speaker

Dianne Morisseau, Anishinaabemowin Speaker

Vern Anderson, Inninew Speaker

Your contributions are a gift to us and it is an honour to receive these teachings. To you we say Miigwetch, Pidamaya do, Seh dzeh tah masicho, Marsi, Ekosani.

The project leaders would also like to thank Manitoba Choral Association for providing a virtual space for the song to be shared with the Manitoba Choral Community.

PROJECT LEADERS

Cory was raised in Winnipeg’s North End and was exposed to great music through his parents and extended family. Cory’s first experience with traditional singing as part of his cultural exploration helped him find his voice and connect to his spirituality in a profound way. He has been blessed with opportunities to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Dead of Winter (formerly Camerata Nova), the University of Manitoba Concert Choir, and various schools choirs in Winnipeg. He takes special pride in his work within numerous schools in and around Winnipeg as part of his passion for helping young Indigenous people find their voice as an expression of pride in their heritage. Singing at ceremony is one of the biggest ways Cory is able to engage in self-care. On a personal note, Cory enjoys life with his wife and three foster children, as well as time with his ten grandchildren. Cory is a very active participant within the spiritual community in and around Winnipeg and abroad. He frequently lends his voice to various activities, including ceremonies and celebrations. Currently, Cory is Executive Director of Project Neecheewam, a community-based organization designed to meet the unique and individual needs of Indigenous youth requiring safe care through a holistic approach that encourages a sense of positive self-worth through emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social growth.

Cory Campbell

Catherine Robbins is a dynamic music educator known especially for her work in vocal techniques and choral pedagogy for choirs of all ages. Dr. Robbins is currently Assistant Professor of Choral Studies and Music Education at the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music. She teaches courses in conducting, choral methods, vocal pedagogy for choirs, choral literature and programming, and directs the University of Manitoba Concert Choir. Catherine is involved in numerous research activities. One such pursuit is Creative Works projects focused on commissioning and publishing music with Indigenous collaborators in a respectful, responsible, and ethical manner. Other research centers on applications of anatomical awareness and somatic approaches to conducting and singing, as well as the emerging field of fascia research. Further interests include collaborative self-study and life history of choral music educators. She has presented at provincial, national, and international symposiums in the areas of music education and choral techniques. Catherine specializes in pedagogy for developing voices, as well as vocal and conductor health, and enjoys bringing the choral music of living composers and song writers to new audiences.

Dr. Catherine Robbins

University of Manitoba Concert Choir

 

The University of Manitoba Concert Choir provides an opportunity for students, faculty, alumni and community members to explore a variety of choral repertoire in a supportive, yet challenging environment. Concert Choir also provides a platform for budding conductors to take on leadership roles and offers a space for future music educators to gain valuable choral singing experience.