Sherryl Sewepagaham is Cree-Dene from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. She is a mother, singer, soon-to-be a music therapist, elementary music teacher and composer.
Sherryl holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta and is pursuing a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Capilano University to be completed in April 2017. She has worked extensively in education as an Aboriginal Music Consultant, elementary music teacher and conductor for two Aboriginal children’s choirs. Sherryl also has certification as an Orff Specialist (music education methodology) presenting at national Orff Conferences, and is learning Spanish along with her Cree language. She has also been Artist-In-Residence at many urban and rural schools and has been invited to be a presenter and keynote speaker at national and provincial education conferences. Sherryl has written teacher resources for the National Arts Centre’s Music Alive Program, an educational outreach program, and works with many school districts throughout British Columbia and Alberta on integrating First Nations music and legends into schools.
Sherryl released her debut solo album, Splashing the Water Loudly, in early October 2014. The album was co-produced with award-winning Jazz pianist Chris Andrew and features the elements of piano, traditional hide drums, Cuban percussion, soaring cello and soulful harmonies. There’s also a spicy duet with Vancouver-based, Métis singer-songwriter Wayne Lavallee, and a children’s choir. The songs are thoughtfully composed and place one foot in her traditional land and the other in the contemporary Western world. The Cree lyrics expose her heart, her thoughts and a quiet, passionate activism for her people.
Sherryl composed the theme song “Music Alive/Vive la Musique!” for the National Arts Centre’s Music Alive Program. She has also created music for the screen, including “Ninanaskomitin” for the live-animation short film How the Spirit Moves, and a piece for the Mother Earth & Me cartoon pilot trailer. Sherryl is continuously composing new traditional children’s drum, rattle and stick songs to share with students during her school visits.
Sherryl’s passion lies in working with children and youth. She was invited to teach and coach young singers in Laxgalts’ap Village First Nations community in northern British Columbia during the summer of 2014. She also was invited to the Words of Our Ancestors Project in 2013 as a Contemporary Vocal Instructor, invited to share her language, songwriting and vocal coaching skills at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s Lethbridge summer workshop in 2010 as a Cultural Instructor of Song Creation, and to Manitoba’s Aboriginal Music Program in 2007.
As a co-founding member, she sang with Asani for 19 years and contributed her vocals and skilled harmonies to the trio’s collection of traditionally-based, contemporary Cree and English drum and rattle songs. Their distinctive sound highlights the tri-interwoven melodic and rhythmic lines while maintaining the traditional sounds of heartbeat drums and chanting voices.
Asani travelled around the world playing at festivals and events in Finland, France, South Africa and all around North America. Major stages included New York’s Carnegie Hall, Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute and The Kennedy Centre, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Calgary Folk Festival, the Lunenburg Festival (Nova Scotia), and the Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Performance highlights include singing for the Dalai Lama, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, and singing the Canadian and the American national anthems for the March 30, 2014 Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers hockey game.
Asani were nominated for many awards for both their albums, Rattle & Drum (2005) and Listen (2008). They received a 2010 Canadian Folk Award, an Indian Summer Music Award, a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award for Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots album, and were inducted into the Canadian A Cappella Hall of Fame.