Bush Lady / Alanis Obomsawin
Alanis Obomsawin is a member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s foremost activist documentary filmmakers. Based in Montréal, she has directed 50 films with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) that explore the lives and concerns of Canada’s First Nations, receiving some of the country’s highest accolades, including The Order of Canada, the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art, and most recently the 2017 Order of Montréal. Before establishing herself as a filmmaker, Obomsawin began her artistic life as a singer-songwriter in the 1960s, as Indigenous artists from across North America were rallying in new assertions of cultural identity, consciousness and political rights, calling for reckonings with oppressive colonial history. She was invited by Folkways to perform at Town Hall in New York City in the early 1960s and spent most of that decade primarily identifying as a musician and social activist, channelling traditional First Nations songs hand-in-hand with modern composition and arrangements. Obomsawin kept her musical output percolating alongside her burgeoning documentary film career, with performances at the legendary Mariposa Folk Festival among others. In the mid-1980s Canada’s national broadcaster (CBC Radio) invited Obomsawin to record an album; unsatisfied with these recordings, she reclaimed the master tapes, remixed the material, re-recorded the title track from scratch, and issued the ensuing Bush Lady album on her own private press in 1985 complete with her own artwork and liner notes. Lacking formal distribution – and with Obomsawin focused primarily on her documentary film career – only a portion of this pressing was sold at the time, the remainder occupying a closet in her Montréal home. The album has grown to become an increasingly legendary rarity ever since. Bush Lady is a unique and magical record by any definition. It’s an invaluable example of contemporary First Nations music that blends traditional folkways with avant-garde composition. Amidst the broader and long-overdue resurgence of interest in modern Aboriginal music – perhaps most notably culminating with the Grammy- nominated Native North America (Vol. 1) 3xLP set released in 2014 (to which Obomsawin also notably declined to contribute, owing to her deep and warranted skepticism about the music industry) – Constellation is honoured to be working with this Canadian cultural icon to issue a remastered version of Bush Lady on audiophile 180gram vinyl and on CD for the first time. Thanks for listening.