Along with Buffy Sainte-Marie’s well-deserved Polaris Prize win, the resurgent interest in Canadian First Nations artists continues to grow in the wake of last year’s acclaimed compilation, Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985. The label that assembled it, Light In The Attic, is now honouring one of the prominent artists on the album, Willie Thrasher, by reissuing his 1981 album, Spirit Child.
Native North America included three songs from Spirit Child—the title track, “Old Man Carver” and “We Got To Take You Higher”—so listeners already familiar with those can expect the full album to contain more of Thrasher’s Native storytelling and consciousness, blended with Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival-infused roots rock.
Spirit Child was originally released through CBC Northern Services, and the song “Silent Inuit” became popular in northern communities. Thrasher was born in the Northwest Territories in 1948, but was taken from his family and put into the residential school system at age 5. In the late 1960s, he played drums in a band called the Cordells, before taking up guitar and writing his own songs.
Today, he can often be heard busking in Nanaimo, B.C. with his partner Linda Saddleback along with formal shows in support of Spirit Child’s reissue.