Singer-songwriter Mimi O’Bonsawin, who has Franco-Ontarion and Abenaki roots, and a member of Odanak First Nation, joins us on Episode 664 of Folk Roots Radio to talk about her latest release “Willow”, a beautiful album with a lovely grounded and intimate feel. A very engaging artist, it was an absolute pleasure to have Mimi join us on the show to chat about this wonderful new project. As always, we wrap up the episode with more of the latest new releases. This time we focus on female artists, and include new music from Jenn Grant, Eliza Mary Doyle, Kerri Powers, LittleFox, Elisapie and Rebecca Folsom. Remember, If you like the artists you hear on this show and want to support them, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music, and then you’ll really make a difference to their income at a time when it is becoming much more difficult to make a living as a musician. Check out the full playlist below.
North-Eastern Ontario singer-songwriter Mimi O’Bonsawin, a member of Odanak First Nation, has a deep connection to the earth and the land, and her music really reflects that. Mimi’s latest album “Willow” was recorded in her log home studio and co-produced with her partner and fellow musician Ryan Schurman. All of the instruments used on the album were recorded live while deliberately not paying too much attention to things that didn’t quite work out the way they planned. The desire being to create a living, breathing album with an honest, grounded and intimate feel. “Just like the bark of the willow tree, the making of this album has brought me so much healing. I have never felt more alive. This album sounds like the music I have always heard in my heart. It is honest, it is real and it is full of life. I feel like all of my previous albums have led me to where I am now, learning and growing at every chapter.”
Mimi performs with partner Ryan Shurman on drums. Her performances have been described as honest and dynamic – an intimate yet uplifting experience for the audience. Through her rhythm and story-driven songs, Mimi embraces the beauty of the land, all the while yielding to her Franco-Ontarian and Abenaki roots. In her music, you will find sounds from the forest, uplifting melodies, and introspective lyrics weaved with pop sensibilities and acoustic instruments. The layers of percussion and surprising harmonies make you feel the music rather than just hear it
When not creating or recording music, Mimi shares her passion for songwriting and art through workshops with youth in schools across Canada. “Music is a powerful healer. Songs and art are great tools to empower our youth and to provide an outlet. No matter the intention, I believe that everyone can and should write a song.”
Mimi O’Bonsawin is also very passionate about gardening, foraging, and making her own medicinal remedies. She grew almost 50% of her own food last year and hopes to be closer to 70% this year. “Making music and growing food is very much the same. They both start with a seed, and with proper care, can grow into a beautiful garden that we all can share. I put intention and love into every seed and every note.”
For more information about the music of Mimi O’Bonsawin, visit mimi.ca.
We started off this episode with Jenn Grant and the beautiful “How I Loved You”, a song she wrote with Hannah Georgas which also features Amy Millan… on vocals. You can find it on Jenn’s latest album, a collaborative project, “Champagne Problems”.
Saskatoon’s Eliza Mary Doyle was formerly the banjo player with The Dead South. “Acting Strange” comes from her second solo album, “Pretty Strange”.
“Shake and Bake” is the latest single from blues and roots singer-songwriter Kerri Powers. Kerri describes the song as a modern blues anthem for the independent woman while acknowledging inspirational early blues greats like Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie.
The instrumental on this episode comes from Vancouver based multi-instrumentalist Alison Jenkins who makes music as LittleFox. “Home Is Where You Are” comes from her excellent Americana EP “Ghost In This House”.
“The songs on Ghost In This House run the gamut from sparkling happiness to deep despair. Not surprising really, seeing as they were all written during the plague-ridden pandemic years. For me, the pandemic was often a strangely happy time: I spent hours writing songs, playing instruments, and – when the rules relaxed somewhat – forging new and wonderful friendships and deepening old ones. Cocooned and protected from the stresses that others were suffering, I became the best version of myself, even as I watched other people crack under the strain.”
Inuk singer-songwriter Elisapie has released an Inuktitut version of Blondie’s 1979 hit “Heart Of Glass”. “Uummati Attanarsimat (Heart Of Glass)” was produced by her regular collaborator Joe Grass. Heart of Glass takes Elisapie back to dancing wildly as a six year old while under her babysitter’s supervision. Sounds like they had a great time while her parents were out.
Elisapie has also done a great Inukitut version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”. We’ll see if we can’t get that into a future episode.
We wrapped the episode up with Colorado based singer-songwriter Rebecca Folsom and “New Way Home” from her latest recording “Sanctuary”, an album fueled by a deep desire to inspire and transform – encouraging people to be the change they want to see in the world. A perfect way to tie things up!
That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have lots of great music and interviews to bring you on future episodes.
If you enjoy the music we play on this show and want to support the artists – many of whom aren’t able to play live at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic, don’t just stream their music – that earns them much less than a penny per play. Instead, buy their music – and really make a difference to their income. They’ll love you for it!
Stay safe and well everyone!
Photo Credit: Ryan Shurman
You can listen to this episode by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on-demand, via Soundcloud and wherever you get your podcasts – including on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform).
His Mother Called Him Angel (Instrumental Version) (Theme)
Abandoned Companions (2018, Self) CDN
How I Loved You (feat. Amy Millan)
Champagne Problems (2023, Self) CDN
Eliza Mary Doyle
Pretty Strange (2023, Self) CDN
Shake and Bake
(single) (2023, Self)
Home Is Where You Are
Ghost In This House (2023, World Peach Records) CDN
Where My Roots Grow
Willow (2022, Self) CDN
Interview: Mimi O’Bonsawin discussing her latest album “Willow”.
I Wish I Was A Farmer
Willow (2022, Self) CDN
Willow (2022, Self) CDN
Willow (2022, Self) CDN
Uummati Attanarsimat (Heart Of Glass)
(single) (2023, Bonsound) CDN
New Way Home
Sanctuary (2023, Self)