Fara Palmer, Soulful Songstress

Posted By PowWows.com February 17th, 2014 Last Updated on: February 17th, 2014

Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima, Music Editor

Q) Thrilled to visit with you! What do you want us to know about you?

A) Tansi (hello in Cree), my name is Fara Palmer. I am a happy wife of 16 years and mother of  five beautiful daughters. I'm also a pop/r&b award winning singer/songwriter and all round music lover.

Q)  You embrace your Native culture and Identity in every aspect of your life and it shows in your positive attitude and approaches to music! Tell us about your journey in music?

Fara Palmer, award winning recording artist!

Fara Palmer, award winning recording artist!

A) My journey started at a young age. I was born with a love of singing. I really got ‘started' singing at talent competitions on the powwow trail. My mom used to run a fry bread stand at powwows. This was how we could afford to travel and compete in the powwow circuit. I was a fancy dancer and team women's traditional and team owl dancer. Many of the powwows had talent contests and my mom was so proud of my singing gift that she was constantly encouraging me to enter. I had immense stage fright by the time i hit my early teens and she would use awesome bribery to get me onstage! It worked. I gained confidence and stage experience through those contests. In grade 10, my mother also put me in singing lessons with an incredibly talented vocal coach named Maria. Maria would become a life-long second mom and career supporter. I blossomed via vocal lessons. Upon graduation, life presented me two options. A fully paid scholarship to the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music OR join a band and go on tour. I figured school would always be there and so join a band called CONTAGIOUS. They were a primarily African American/Canadian band (so very soulful ) and we did R&B, dance and urban cover tunes.

How i got into the professional recording industry was that on one of our family trips in Edmonton, AB, we went to the West End Mall. There was a karaoke recording booth there and my mom paid for me to record a few songs. I kept the tape and one day a friend of mine played it and was wowed by my vocals. Without my knowledge, he took the tape and played it for Micheal Moeti of Calabash Records ( a small independent recording label in Vancouver, BC Canada), who was wowed. I received a phone call and thus began a recording relationship with my first indie label. We applied for and received FACTOR funding to record and shoot a music video. That was how i got started in the professional recording industry.

Q) How did you start playing? What are some of your favorite accomplishments? Please give us the highlight reel!

A) A few highlights are sharing the stage with a crew of beautiful talented First Nations women as part of the 2012 Indspire Awards. It was a heart song moment for me!

I have to say that all the performances where my music or voice reached out and connected with my audience via love or emotionally connecting are the ones that i value the most. They are not ‘name dropping' gigs, nor are they high profile gigs, although I've been blessed to have participated in some spectacular buzz buzz kinds of events.
My all time fave performance was for one of the Elders Gatherings in BC. It was around 2008 and held at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver, BC. I had just made a return to music after taking 7 years off to create and raise a family. My return cd was entitled PHOENIX (iTunes link: www.itunes.apple.com/ca/album/phoenix/id261478434 ) and I was on tour promoting the album and my return to music. I volunteered my time at

the gathering and it was EPIC!!! Elders from all over BC and beyond filled the Pan Pacific. The grand entry was phenomenal! Flags and dancers in full west coast regalia followed by Kings & Queens and members of the clans and tribes, drums, singers and more. That alone was so grand.  I sang to a full house, surrounded by First Nations elders, aunties, uncles, and youth. They smiled, danced, and sang along to my songs and at the end of my performance, i was honored with not only a loud standing ovation, but a woman came up to me while i was onstage and placed a cedar headband upon my head. Such a wonderful feeling of being accepted, valued, loved and appreciated!! Now what could top that?????

Fara Palmer

Fara Palmer

Q)How does your Tribal heritage appear in your life as a way of life? How does culture impact the way that you live and the way that you make your music?

A) I'm all mixed up. A Cree/Saulteaux woman who was raised mostly in West and Interior Coast Salish territory. I mainly identify as a First Nations woman who has been acculturated into the dominant society and who also practices certain aspects of her Native heritage/culture. I have not totally ‘bought into' the dominant way of life, as I feel it is largely toxic to humans and mother earth. But some of it is of great value also.

I am fluent in English, and speak a bit of Cree & Secwepemc language. I drum, sing, pray, smudge, sometimes powwow, respect my elders, try my best to respect protocols, continue to learn, value earth medicines, canning, preserving wild game (jerky, smoked salmon, etc), enjoy fish camp, scrape hide (focus on the singular still, working on plural.), do beadwork, sing in the Cree language in an all female Plains Cree group called Iskwewsingers (iskwew translates into ‘women' in Plains Cree) www.iskwewsingers.com . I continue to learn more about where i come from, what our people have gone through, how we are evolving and reclaiming in the now to hopefully create a better tomorrow for future generations.

Musically,  I take advantage of the platform my line of work creates to educate the public about issues i care about. One of which, is my Native Heritage. It can be heard in each of my 3 albums via certain songs and their lyrics.

Q) How does practicing our Native lifeways help those who are struggling to come to understanding and freedom? What do you hope your music does in the lives of your listeners?

Fara Palmer performs!

Fara Palmer performs!

A) I would say it is of value to know your roots, as much as you can glean. I have benefited greatly from both self wellness practices and from learning about my First Nations identity and practicing our culture. As a direct result of both, I have a solid faith in creator and spirit which has helped me overcome many overwhelming life experiences. As for freedom, that depends on the definition we are meaning here. I have found a liberation in truth, and i could say my mind has been walking the path of attaining more and more ‘mental freedom' for many years. Truth about our ways of life, truth about First Nations relationships with RCMP, Fisheries, Gov't, each other…. I feel grounded in truth and in that way free from the BS that many people swallow on the daily. That's valuable to me, as i used to be blind to the truths around me. I'd say I bought into a bunch of untruths about the world and social norms and got caught up in it. I'm still learning.

Q) You have a strong following among fans of all ages. What would you like to say to your fans?

A) Seek, seek, seek. Question respectfully. Learn your traditions, stories, history, culture. Pray for what you desire to learn and be ready when it comes. Pass your knowledge on. Keep our bloodlines strong, so the government does not ‘phase' us out. Evolve, adapt, survive, practice your culture, follow your heart but also use your mind to make healthy wise choices. Pray, offer tobacco, be in nature (Mother Earth has strong medicine!!). Life is an incredible journey! Surround yourself with real stuff, hopefully stuff that is both true and is enriching.

Q) What are some of the lessons you have learned as you climbed the ladder of success?

A) If you are talking career success: I had to work hard. Was work, work, work and more work. I lived, eat, breathed etc music and all my career involved to get to where i am. I loved it. I think when one desires to attain something so bad, one will stop short of nothing to get it. Fierce determination, faith in one's gift, hard work (work now, play later philosophy) helped me. I don't remember any obstacles. Seems like the Creator blessed me in this career, the doors opened, people valued my gift and me and helped me to succeed. All I had to do was work my butt off and, over time, I became a professional recording artist (as opposed to what I was born: a human being and singer).


Q) What are the most important qualities of a performer? What are the most destructive?

A) Everyone has different tastes, values and beliefs, so that question will have many different answers. I value quality. In vocals or entertainment ability. I also value down to earth artists!! Destructive qualities could be: effects of insecurity, falseness, addictions, EGO, diva'ism to the point of disrespect. Probably the same destructive qualities that are found in a non musical career and in basic living!!

Q) Who are some of your favorite musicians? Why?

A) Hmmmm. pretty long list. Here are a few: Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston for their epic vocal ability and epic ability to touch my heart with their vocal gifts! Usher. Leela Gilday: She just rocks in so many ways I value!! A long line of hip-hoppers and old skool dj's for wicked beats and head bobbing happiness!! ACDC, cuz i need to rock. Vince Gill, because Country and RnB are better combined! Cris Derksen, since her music is like mind travelling. So many more!

Q) If you could offer any advice to someone who would like to learn more and possibly start performing,singing,drumming or playing, what would it be?

A) Seek and ye shall find! Knowledge is everywhere. Many are willing to share their success stories. Use social media, the internet to ask questions: YOU WILL GET THEM ANSWERED!! Keep learning. If you want to sing, practice. If you want to drum, practice. Whatever you want to do, practice. Youtube is a great source of info and learning and networking! There are lessons you can watch, videos of others sharing their craft. Find someone who is already doing what you want to do, and ask them how they did it. Invest in yourself, you are worth it!

Q) If you could offer any warnings to someone starting out in music, what would you caution them NOT to do?

A) I'd caution people not to believe everything they see, hear, read, etc. The music business is a very fake and false business. Full of dishonest, money hungry vultures. Get a lawyer. Or take your time!!!! If its real, it will stay real. You can afford the extra time it takes to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into! POINT IN FACT: TLC was a mega world wide selling group who signed recording contracts that basically shysted them out of millions of dollars. They were worldwide SUPERSTARS but were broke and eventually went in debt! Read the fineprint! DON”T TRUST ANYONE, unless they have earned your trust. Be careful, is my point.

Q) What would you like us to know that we don't already know about you?

A) I'm working on a new CD, have completed my family (5 girls), and will be balancing both motherhood and a career in music soon! No time announcement yet on when the album will be done, but i am recording. May you all be blessed on your journeys and surrounded with love! To those who don't know me. I am a big kid who loves to laugh. A geek and real happy about it!

Soulful Show!

Soulful Show!

Dr. Dawn Karima is a NAMMY-winning Recording Artist for her CD, THE DESIRE OF NATIONS (www.cdbaby.com/honeydawnkarima).

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