Best Pop CD! Best Producer/Engineeer! Inez Jasper proved to be a BIG winner at the 2014 Aborginal People's Choice Music Awards. “Burn Me Down” lit a fire of popularity and prizes for this stunning star that she shares with Powwows.com in this interview!
Interview By Dr. Dawn Karima, Ph.D.
Q) Congratulations on your big win! Now that we are celebrating your victories at the 2014 APCMA, what do you want us to know about you?
A) My name is Inez Jasper. I was born and raised on the Skowkale First Nation which is located in Sto:lo Territory in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada. I'm a mother, Nurse, Singer, Songwriter and performer! My children are 5 and 23 months and they are the little lights in my life.
Q) Awards and honors are coming your way these days, but how did you get started in the music field?
A) Growing up at home on the rez has been a blessing for me to be surrounded by all kinds of music: Traditional and contemporary native music, western music and everything in between. I was always around powwows, family singing on hand drum and of course the radio was always blasting at my house. Family dinners always featured a traditional dinner song, guitars came out and family sang and harmonized.
It wasn't until I moved away to university that I missed all of these musical influences around me. I had always been a huge fan of pop, R&B and HipHop music. As a way to cope with the distance from home and my culture I started to free write, which later turned into poetry and songs. I had written so much that my journal was full of songs. I had been encouraged to perform and record my songs at a local indigenous youth drop-in center in Vancouver and things took off from there.
Q) How did you start playing? What are some of your favorite accomplishments? Please give us the highlight reel!
A) I got my start in the city (Vancouver). I had finally graduated university and I had a full-time job as a bedside nurse in an inner city hospital. So with my new salary, I funded some new recordings and performed around the city on my days off. It was an insane schedule to keep but I felt on top of the world. I was finally practicing my profession and expressing myself fully and authentically through singing and songwriting.
After releasing my first solo album in 2009 I was asked to perform at the Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards. It was an incredible honor to do the show as it was televised on live national television on Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN). I took 4 awards home that night and that night my career launched. I was hired to travel all over Indian country to perform in small communities and in cities for native events.
Things “got real” when I traveled to St. John's, Newfoundland for the Juno awards. I had been nominated for “Aboriginal Recording of the Year” and this experience opened my eyes to the greater Canadian Music Scene. I didn't win, but my mentors and support, “Digging Roots” won that year. I was in awe of all the talent that surrounded me and I realized that these were my colleagues. I realized my own true talent.
Q) Wow! Powerful! Your culture is a prominent part of your life,so how does your heritage influence your music?
A) My heritage is my life: it's my identity, my lifestyle in the essence that my family still practices seasonal activities like fishing, ceremony, powwows, etc. Those experiences growing up have influenced my worldview, thus my songwriting. I hope that my music can uplift people and give them hope for a better future.
Q) You mentioned, the future and that surely includes the youth! What do you think about our Native youth today?
A) I hope that young people can see that embracing our culture can not only be fulfilling and help consolidate our identity as indigenous people….but it can also be totally fun! Let's JAM OUT!
Q) You're a Champion now, but everybody's got their something. What are some of the obstacles you had to overcome in order to achieve the success you enjoy now?
A) I don't consider myself a champion…maybe of just having the confidence to pursue something that still seems so far away. I've had to overcome many obstacles like battling the victim mentality that lived inside of me: The “I can't” or the “i'll never make it” mentality that can defeat us before we even start. I still juggle the demands of being a mom and a traveling performer. I've had to face a ton of rejection and even reconsidered whether I should even pursue a career in music. I kept on with my professional career until the demands of my music career over took my day job. I feel blessed.
Q) You have succeeded so much in following your dreams! What is some advice that you could share with young people about the most important and most destructive qualities of a performer?
A) The most important qualities of a performer? Perhaps a constant drive to explore and improve your music and performance. On the other hand, this can be destructive so a healthy dose of self care is important because getting lost in the cliches of the life can be destructive (i.e. drugs, alcohol, etc).
Q) You are inspiring! Who inspires you? Who are some of your favorite musicians?
A) Right now my fav musicians are Leonard Sumner, Nick Sherman, Kristi Lane Sinclair, Kinnie Star, A Tribe Called Red, George Leach, etc. I have the honor to watch these artists perform and I am always in awe of their talent.
Q) If you could offer your wisdom to someone who would like to learn more and possibly start performing,singing,drumming or playing, what would it be?
A) Go to school, have a back up career and then learn as much as you can about the industry and practice practice, get feedback then practice.
Try not to get caught up in the party of the musician lifestyle. I've seen it suck people into the undertow and their career quickly sinks.
Q) What would you like us to know that we don't already know about you?|
A) When I'm home I like to go right to the rez and raid my parents fridge for fish and rice and hit up the latest family gathering or longhouse powwow. Otherwise….I lose connection with the real world by trying to catch up on laundry, time with my kids and eating and sleeping 🙂
Q) Thanks so much for sharing with us. We sure do appreciate you!
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