Attawapiskat singer and songwriter Adrian Sutherland shares some deeply personal experiences on his debut solo album, including a song about his mother, a residential school survivor and a victim of abuse.
The nine-song album When the Magic Hits was released on September 17.
The song about his mother is called Nowhere to Run. In it, Sutherland shares his own struggles as a young boy, not being able to keep her safe.
“For me, it was important to write about that. For the longest time, I think I couldn’t really talk about it or even write about it,” said Sutherland, adding he actually wrote the song five years ago but only felt ready to release it as part of this project.
“[It’s] the most personal song on the album … When I was a boy, I often feared she wouldn’t come home at night. As the oldest son, I felt it was my place to protect her,” Sutherland shared on social media.
“The most personal song on the album. My mother was a residential school survivor & victim of violence. When I was a boy, I often feared she wouldn’t come home at night. As the oldest son, I felt it was my place to protect her…” <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AdrianSutherland?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AdrianSutherland</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WhenTheMagicHits?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WhenTheMagicHits</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowhereToRun?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NowhereToRun</a> <a href=”https://t.co/3x89eac7Dq”>pic.twitter.com/3x89eac7Dq</a>
He says telling his mother’s story through music is part of his own healing journey and something very important to him.
Since 2011, Sutherland has been the front man for the all-Cree rock band Midnight Shine. With the group, Sutherland often uses his platform to talk and sing about social issues facing Indigenous communities, such as high rates of suicide in the song I Need Angels released in 2018.
In 2019 Sutherland wrote Politician Man, a protest song that hit number 1 on the Indigenous Music Countdown in May of 2020.
On this most recent solo project the focus turns inward for Sutherland and includes songs about love, loss, trauma and hope, as well as the mistreatment of Indigenous women and girls.
He said he’s very proud of When the Magic Hits and enjoyed the creative freedom working on a solo project brought.
“It’s different because I really don’t have to bounce ideas off any other members in the band. It’s just myself, you know?”, said Sutherland.
Sutherland still lives in his hometown of Attawapiskat, Ont., on the western shore of James Bay.
His love of the territory and its people continue to be reflected in his music and videos. This solo project is no different.
The 44-year-old has just returned from a moose hunt at his family’s traditional territory.
“We flew into our camp. We spent two weeks there, but we didn’t get any moose,” said Sutherland.
“I went out again last week and with my wife and my youngest boy and we finally got our moose,” he said, adding that after filling their freezer, they shared meat with family and friends.
Sutherland said plans to tour with “When the Magic Hits” this fall needed to be postponed because of restrictions caused by the pandemic, but he remains hopeful that a tour will be possible in 2022.