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Life experiences turned into song on new CD.

Music has been an important part of Marcel Gagnon's life as far back as he can remember. Now, with the release of his first CD, it's a part of his life he can share with the world.

The CD, Crazy Maker, is a collection of songs written by Gagnon and performed along with fellow musicians and band mates John Sorensen, Don McLelland, Trevor Bigam, Justin Frey, Jeremy Blattner, Dianna McNolty, Arnold Faber and Suzy Wigmore.

Gagnon, a member of the Lheidli T'enneh band in north central B.C., said he sees the music as a sacred thing," a gift given to him that can be taken away if he doesn't use it right.

He's dedicated Crazy Maker to the survivors of residential schools. He hopes the album will do more than just entertain listeners. He hopes it will help get a message out, to make people aware of what has happened in the Native world.

The album deals with a number of subjects from the power of the sweat to the horror of residential schools.

Most of the songs he writes are inspired by his life experiences, Gagnon explained.

"Most of it is pretty deep stuff."

A survivor of sexual abuse and alcoholism, Gagnon views his music as therapy. While some people involved in the healing process are encouraged to keep a journal as part of their therapy, he explained, he uses his music for the same end. And in the end, it gives him something he can pass on to his children.

The songs on the CD are an eclectic mix, incorporating traditional Native style with country, rock, jazz and blues. His style has drawn comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.

Gagnon said he chose to have such a varied collection of songs on the CD to reach a broader audience, but next time around he plans to record a more focused album. He's already written most of the songs for the next CD, which he says will be a melding of traditional Native music with the contemporary, with kind of a Pink Floyd inspired feel.

The theme for the next CD, he explained, was taken from a story his mother told him years ago about a man who would go around the community at night, making sure the children were all safely home, and checking on the sick.

That man is long gone, Gagnon said, but the new CD will bring him back. He's taken the man in the stories his mother told him, and turned him into a mythical character named Tom Crow.

"I can't wait to get started on it," Gagnon said of the next CD project. He expects to start work on it next year.

The role the music has played in Gagnon's life is the focus of a recently completed documentary produced by John Almond of Stonebridge Pictures in Victoria. Almond said he decided to do the documentary after Gagnon's manager, Don Rudland, brought him some of Gagnon's work.

"Don had brought me the music to listen to, and I found it quite interesting, the lyrics, and the words and the stories that Marcel was telling," 'Almond said.

The documentary is called Journey Between Two Worlds and examines many of the journeys Gagnon has been on in his life, Almond explained -- the journey between the non-Native and Native worlds, the journey between alcoholism and non-alcoholism, between abuse and non-abuse.

"The focus is his journey of life and how the music sort of affected and was sort of one of the grounding roots of his life," Almond said. "He talks about his past. He's had quite a time period in his life where he was quite troubled. And then at a powwow in Quesnel, where he suddenly heard the Native drum again, and he started to cry, and this is when he found that he wanted to get back to his Native roots. And it sort of started him on his search again for his Native roots...and to get on the Red Road."

For more information about the Crazy Maker CD or about Marcel Gagnon, check out Gagnon's Web site at www.marcelgagnon.com, or e-mail him at vufox@hwy16.com. You can also write to Marcel Gagnon at Box 286, Fort Fraser, B.C. V0J 1N0. For more information about the documentary Journey Between Two World, e-mail stonebridgeproductions@yahoo.ca.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Review; Crazy Maker
Author:Petten, Cheryl
Publication:Wind Speaker
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:728
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