Cover art for podcast Broken Boxes Podcast

Broken Boxes Podcast

82 EpisodesProduced by Ginger DunnillWebsite

Broken Boxes Podcast centers Indigenous artists, activist focused artists, Queer/Trans/NonBinary artists, women identifying artists, artists of color and mixed/lost/stolen heritage artists. This project does not support or promote any one human experience above of or instead of any other, and the ap… read more


Episode 45. Interview with Cheryl L'Hirondelle

Broken Boxes Podcast is proud to present this episode as the second installation in a series of interviews featuring participants and their respondents from the socially engaged project #callresponse.  

In this episode we get into conversation with Cheryl L'Hirondelle, a community-engaged Alberta-born, Cree/Metis, interdisciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and curator. L'Hiriondelle speaks about two major projects that continue to evolve through her practice and we hear how music and voice act as the primary tools for expressing her work. She shares reflection on her experience as Ursula Johnsons respondent artist for #callresponse and gives insight regarding the evolving life of the artist and the importance of connectivity.

Since the early 1980s, L’Hirondelle has created, performed and presented work in a variety of artistic disciplines, including music, performance art, theatre, performance poetry, storytelling, installation, and new media. Her creative practice investigates a Cree worldview (nêhiyawin) in contemporary time-space. L’Hirondelle has developed endurance-based performances, interventions, site-specific installations, interactive and new media projects and keeps singing, making rhythm, writing songs and telling stories/giving voice whenever and wherever she can. Currently based in Toronto, she has performed and exhibited her work widely both in Canada and abroad, and her previous musical efforts and new media work have garnered her critical acclaim and numerous awards.

Here is the conversation with Cheryl L'Hirondelle:

Subscribe to Broken Boxes Podcast on iTunes HERE to stream and download this episode

All music featured on this podcast episode provided by the artist Cheryl L'Hirondelle

Catch up on the #callresponse series and listen to Broken Boxes Podcast interview with Ursula Johnson and the projects introduction interview featuring Maria Hupfield, Tarah Hogue and Tanya Willard.

More About The Artist:

According to many dictionaries the swallow (aka l'hirondelle) is a “migratory swift-flying songbird.” This describes Cheryl L'Hirondelle accurately - though for this award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist the definition should end with "and so much more." An Alberta born mixed-blood, multi and interdisciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and curator, her creative practice is an investigation of the junction of a cree worldview (nêhiyawin) in contemporary time space.

Caged Bird Sings project. Cheryl L'Hirondelle 

Since the early 80's, L'Hirondelle has created, performed and presented work in a variety of artistic disciplines, including: music, performance art, theatre, performance poetry, storytelling, installation and new media. In the early 90's, she began a parallel career as an arts consultant/advisor and programmer, cultural strategist/activist, and director/producer of both independent works and projects within national artist-run networks. L’Hirondelle’s various activities have also found her working in the Canadian independent music industry, as well as various educational institutions, the prison system, First Nations bands, tribal councils and governmental funding agencies, at both the provincial and federal levels.L’Hirondelle’s performance work is featured in Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women (2001), written by the late Âhâsiw Maskêgon Iskwêw, and edited by Tanya Mars and Johanna Householder. L’Hirondelle’s 2001 performative activity and corresponding website cistêmaw îyîniw ohci (for the tobacco being) are also discussed in Candice Hopkin’s book, Making a Noise: Aboriginal Perspectives on Art, Art History, Critical Writing and Community (2006). In 2004, L’Hirondelle and Hopkins were the first Aboriginal artists from Canada to be invited to present work at DAK’ART Lab, as part of the 6th Edition of the Dakar Biennale for Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal. In both 2005 and 2006, L’Hirondelle was the recipient of the imagineNATIVE New Media Award for her online projects: treatycard, 17:TELL and wêpinâsowina. L’Hirondelle’s previous musical efforts have also garnered her critical acclaim with two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards 2006 and 2007 for her contributions to Vancouver based Aboriginal Women’s Ensemble M’Girl. Her own first attempt in producing (and as one half of) the singing/songwriting duo Nikamok was recognized with a nomination from the Prairie Music Awards (now the Western Canadian Music Awards) and many of her songs have been licensed for television, documentary and feature films. In 2011, Cheryl was also nominated for a KM Hunter Award in Music.

Ever the visionary, she continues to come up with new ways music and her other artistic ideas can converge and in 2009 was recognized as an Honoree in the Net.Art category from the Webby Awards for nikamon ohci askiy (songs because of the land), an ongoing and now international sonic mapping and songwriting project now called Sing Land X Song Mark. She was also nominated for a K.M. Hunter Music award in 2011 and since 2008 has been working on co-composing a series of songs with incarcerated women, men and detained youth in federal prisons, provincial correctional institutions and civic detention centres titled Why the Caged Bird Sings. She is also collaborating with various Indigenous language speakers and emerging songwriters on an international songwriting project and operates Miyoh Music, an Indigenous niche music publishing company.

From 2009 to 2011, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Festival invited L'Hirondelle to curate their first three new media exhibitions: Codetalkers of the Digital Divide (or why we didn't become "roadkill on the information superhighway"), RE:counting coup and S-O-S3 (signals of survival). She has also been involved in a variety of media arts initiatives including:  Smartlab Associate Researcher, 2005–07; Banff New Media Institute Advisory Committee, 2006; Canada Council Media Arts Advisory Committee, 1997–2001; KIDS FROM KANATA On-line Aboriginal Liaison (with Buffy Sainte Marie), 1995-96; and Drum Beats to Drum Bytes Thinktank, 1994. 

Cheryl is currently a member of the OCAD University Indigenous Education Council and has recently begun post-graduate research-creation at UCD, Dublin, Ireland.

Cheryl L'Hirondelle Website

Cheryl L'Hirondelle Bandcamp

Song Lines Project

Medicine Path Project

#callresponse project details:

Strategically centering Indigenous women as vital presences across multiple platforms, #callresponse is a multifaceted project which includes a website, social media platform, touring exhibition and catalogue. The project brings together five local art commissions by Indigenous women artists from across Canada, including Christi Belcourt, Maria Hupfield, Ursula Johnson, Tania Willard and Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory. Each artist has invited a guest to respond to their work, including Isaac Murdoch, IV Castellanos and Esther Neff, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Marcia Crosby and Tanya Tagaq.

#callresponse is co-organized by Tarah Hogue, Maria Hupfield and Tania Willard, and produced in partnership with grunt gallery and generously supported by the {Re}conciliation initiative of the Canada Council for the Arts, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Additional presentation partners include BUSH Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, FADO Performance Art Centre, Kamloops Art Gallery, OFFTA live art festival, the National Arts Centre, and the Native Education College.

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