Gabrielle Knife has been singing all of her life. She says, “Singing well? Not until about my sophomore year in High School. Around this time of my life is when I began looking into the Wicaglata, or ‘women singing behind the drum’ role. I had grandmothers and aunties who sang behind the drum. I would watch them and be completely mesmerized.
Throughout my singing career, at the corner of my eye I will see little young girls standing there watching me sing as well. That is what keeps me going. The fact that they could very well become an even greater singer and go farther and open more doors for our future generations than I ever could. They are my biggest inspiration.”
Tell me about the album. What was your inspiration?
In 2006, I attended the Annual Rosebud Casino Powwow. During this powwow was announced a Women’s Back Up Singing Competition. I was so excited! I decided to participate in it and I had asked my adopted uncles, the Omaha Standing Eagle drum group, if I could sing with them. I had no idea what I was going to sing but I learned their song. That video has become a very popular video across Indian Country and has reached well over 600,000 views on YouTube. It was from the popularity and the success of the video when people began asking me if I had a CD. They wanted to hear more of my singing. I was inspired and moved by the love and support I was getting as a Gospel singer and Wicaglata. I was asked to sing at honoring’s, funerals and powwow singing competitions.
What was the recording and production process like?
For years I juggled the idea of whether or not to make a CD. I didn’t have much money, I didn’t know anyone to record for me. Finally, after my husband introduced me to some recording software. I downloaded it and began to learn the program inside and out. I began recording track after track of my songs.
So, there I was with my $100 microphone from and $20 headphones just sitting in my living room just singing and recording away. I did all the mixing and mastering. I knew nothing about recording but I knew I wanted my CD that bad so I learned. With the help of Whitney Rencountre II to do my CD Graphics and my husband, Kevin Pederson Jr., for helping me with honest feedback, I created my Debut Album, “Ohiya Ku Winyan – Songs by Gabrielle Knife”.
I submitted my album to the 2014 Native American Music Awards in which I was nominated for Debut Artist of the Year. Although I did not win, it didn’t stop me from continuing my goals. I submitted my album once again for the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards and I am currently a nominee for Best New Artist. Voting Ends July 31, 2015 and you can register to vote at:
Where can we go to hear your music?
My music can be heard at www.reverbnation.com/gabrielleknife . My album is also available for download on iTunes and physical copies available at Prairie Edge Trading Post in Rapid City, SD. I also have a link on my Facebook account, www.facebook.com/gabrielleknife, where people may purchase.
Do you have any upcoming performances?
I don’t have any upcoming performances per say but I am always singing at powwows and offering my voice to the drum. Often I am asked by the Cheyenne River Veteran’s Association to sing the National Anthem in the Lakota Language for the presentation of the 9/11 Flag.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for Best New Artist?
To be nominated in both the Native American Music Awards and Indigenous Music Awards means more than words. I grew up on the reservation. I’ve seen things I wish I didn’t have to see. I’ve seen extreme poverty, depression, suicides, alcoholism, drug addiction, child abuse, physical abuse among the community. It was a very sad child hood growing up where I did. We were exposed to many things a child should not be exposed to living on the reservation. Being nominated for a very prestigious Native Award means I made it. I had many opportunities to choose to go down a destructive road but for the sake of my family, mother and grandmother, I chose as many right decisions as possible. I chose life and a better future for myself to bring honor to my Mother, Grandmother and Lakota People. This nomination alone is already such a huge achievement. It means that, that little girl struggling on the reservation can make it and become a positive advocate and role model for her people and use her talents to bring back the honor and glory that her people are truly known for.
Any encouraging words that you would like to tell the aspiring artists from your area and all over Native country?
My words to those who are aspiring musicians, artists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. if you are in a terrible situation (whatever it may be), don’t allow it to overtake you. Use your situation as fuel and encouragement to get you to where you want to be. Don’t give up. You are our hope for our Native People. You ARE important. It doesn’t matter whether its music or whatever it is you want to achieve, never forget your people and where you come from. Remember them. Remember who you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Someone is counting on you to pave the way. Go and make your people proud!