Feature Story                                                                                          Thursday, September 18, 2014


Adventures in Song

Harrison Festival fall series begins with NWT Dene singer Gilday at Memorial Hall Oct 4

Released by Mel Dunster, General Manger, Harrison Festival Society


Leela Gilday weaves her northern experiences into a passionate musical adventure for audiences.


ailing from Yellowknife, NWT, captivating Dene singer/songwriter, Leela Gilday, will be opening the Harrison Festival Society's 26th Season of Performing Arts with her gutsy vocals and soulful stage performance Saturday, October 4 at 8:00pm in the intimate Harrison Memorial Hall.


Gilday's passionate voice comes straight from the heart and takes listeners on a musical  journey where freedom and joy balance sorrow and injustice. Her lyrics, reflective of her northern roots, embrace the essence of Dene life from an urban perspective.


"She really embodies her songs." says Harrison Festival Society Artistic Director, Andy Hillhouse. "Her raw honesty and emotion resonates powerfully with the audience."

Gilday strives for that connection with her audience and with each record brings more unique stories to the world. Whether it’s an anthem for the oppressed, or an upbeat song about mortality, she infuses her songs with a sense of humour as well as a sense of social justice, and an ironic appreciation of human folly.

"Her singing ranges from tender folk ballads, to R&B and gospel stylings, to chill-inducing chants inspired by Dene song," says Hillhouse.

Her four-piece band featuring Jason Burnstick (guitar) Paul Yee (bass) and Elliott Polsky (drums), has toured festivals and concert halls through every province and territory in Canada. 

In 2011, she performed on the Beach Stage for the 33rd Annual Harrison Festival of the Arts both with her band and as part of the New Directions: An Aboriginal Collaboration. 

She has also played internationally in several countries including Japan, US, Greenland, Denmark, and New Zealand.  "Leela always tours with a great band who can seriously rock," says Hillhouse.    

Her live shows, and many appearances on television and radio have earned her an important place in the Aboriginal music scene, as well as a loyal mainstream following. “We have long recognized her as a talented member of our nation,” says Dene National Chief, Bill Erasmus.

Gilday has many national awards including a Juno and Western Canadian Music Award for her second album Sedzé. She was named Aboriginal Female Entertainer of the Year (2011) by the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, and was the Musical Director for the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards Finale (2012, CTV).

Gilday's performance in Harrison is part of the CD release tour for her much anticipated fourth album, Heart of the People.  Tracks from the album will be performed live in Harrison with her full band and copies of the new CD will be available for purchase.

Tickets for Leela Gilday are $22.00 and can be purchased online at www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604.796.3664 or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison and Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart on Pioneer Ave. Contact HFS via email here.



What the critics are saying

Leela Gilday weaves her Northern experiences into a passionate musical journey

“Leela Gilday’s voice comes straight from the heart. It’s the voice of a winner; the song of a warrior. That’s the call of Leela Gilday.”

- David Newland, Roots Music Canada

Upcoming Shows

Watch the Voice for more information about upcoming shows; Brickhouse on November 1 and Keith Mullins on November 22



About the Harrison Festival Society

Known worldwide for its professional artistry and small town hospitality, the Harrison Festival Society has long been a beacon for growing acceptance of diversity and purpose fuelled programming. 


Each July for more than 30 years the Society has produced the internationally acclaimed Harrison Festival of the Arts, a 9-day, cross-disciplinary, multicultural art event set amidst the small town atmosphere and breathtaking scenery of Harrison Hot Springs, BC. A non-profit, grass-roots organization, the Society also presents an annual Season of the Performing Arts from September to May and works closely with a number of Fraser Valley partners in continuing to bring high quality, inclusive and accessible performing arts into the area.


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