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 multi-disciplinary artist and singer/songwriter the definition could to end with “and so much more.” Known for her ability to freely move between loudly singing and drumming out a traditional drum song at a community event to crooning a contemporary ballad in an intimate concert setting, Cheryl attributes this to a combination of a strong musical upbringing, musical training and years spent either listening and participating in First Nations ceremonial music or alternative bands. The presence of her poignant and distinctive vocal delivery and driving hand drum percussion compliments the arrangement of whatever musical setting where she is found, whether it be live on a festival stage or during a family jam. She is from the Canadian northern plains and comes from a large extended musical family and has been singing and performing since she was a child. Cheryl’s Debut 5 song EP “Giveaway” was reviewed and added to the 2nd edition of musicologist Brian Wright Mcleod’s Encyclopedia of Native Music. The EP is a sample from the Vancouver version of her sonic-mapping songwriting projectSonglines with the songs inspired from various sights, sounds and movement as she walked around Vancouver during the winter of 2008. A full album is scheduled for completion in 2012 that will include songs from two further renditions: Toronto songlines, where in 2010/2011 she re-traced old indigenous trails and hunting, gathering and ceremonial locations around current day Toronto and an upcoming Adelaide songlines where she will have the honour of listening to the land and spending time with the Kaurna people as she walks around Adelaide, Australia.
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 licenced for television, documentary and feature films. Ever the visionary, she continues to come up with new ways her music and other artistic ideas can converge and in 2009 was recognized as an Honoree in the Net.Art category from the 13th Annual Webby Awards for vancouversonglines.ca, one that she hopes to be the first of many more online music projects. Her latest music video is called NDNSPAM Song (go to the music page to watch it), which she co-directed with her music producer Gregory Hoskins. Cheryl is also working on a collection of songs she is co-writing with women in prisons and correctional centres across this land now known as Canada.Cheryl has performed nationally and internationally since the early 80’s in a variety of bands and musical ensembles from punk to art rock, alternative, blues, folk-roots, world music and choral ensembles. Her various artistic activities have also had her creating and presenting in the national artist-run gallery networks as well as new media labs/centres, community organizations, educational institutions (from grade schools to universities), the women’s prison system and First Nations bands and tribal councils.
She has been invited to sing for many notables including Prince Charles, Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean and billionaire Michael Lee Chin. In both 2005 and 2006, L’Hirondelle was the recipient of the imagineNATIVE New Media Award for her online net.art projects: treatycard, 17:TELL and wêpinâsowina. In 2004, L’Hirondelle was the first Aboriginal artist from Canada to be invited to present her work at DAK’ART Lab, as part of the 6th Edition of the Dakar Biennale for Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal. Cheryl is from a well-known family of musicians and dancers from the Edmonton and northern Alberta area. Besides singing harmonies, jigging or beating out an accompaniment to her relatives’ music at family get-togethers, her early musical years were spent in Calgary taking piano, voice, theory and composition lessons; attending assorted master classes and singing in school choirs. She has also participated in voice intensives led by David Smukler, Richard Armstrong and Sadie Buck.