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It has never been done before. But now Canada has its first recording of a powwow group in a penitentiary.
About a year ago the Broken Wing singers (from the Prince Albert Penitentiary) had a group who had been singing together for a while.
All of the men involved were going through the healing process and they wanted to put out a positive message that young people should not do the things that would send them to the 'pen'.
The message they tell is clear - This is not the place to come.
Corrections Services of Canada supports the message they are trying to get across, says Tom Gerrard - liaison worker at the P.A. penitentiary, and that is the reason they allowed the recording to take place.
The project took a year to complete partially because of the cost involved to make the recording.
In fact, it might never have been made if it was not for the support of Vice Chief Eugene Arcand and the FSIN. The drum people approached Eugene Arcand and he was able to get financial assistance for them in the form of a loan to get the project started.
They were very grateful for the opportunity to do this recording.
The recording, recorded live surrounded by concrete walls, was made at the penitentiary over a period of 5 hours by Sweet Grass Records. It has 12 songs - Round Dances and a Powwow Song.
The recording is simply titled - 'Broken Wing Singers'.
The Broken Wing Singers recording joins the growing list of artists and productions on the Sweet Grass Label.
Among the many groups are the Stoney Park Singers (winners of a Juno '94), the Whitefish Jrs - who just won the world class singing championship in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Crying Women Singers, Red Bull, Walking Buffalo, and many others.
Sweet Grass Records began about a year ago as a hobby by Ted Whitecalf. He wanted to continue to record powwow songs at a high quality - something he had been involved in during his twenty years in the audio visual department at the FSIN Cultural Centre. He believed that if the quality was there, then pow wow singers and recordings would be successful.
The singers will not profit from this recording. All of the royalties from this cassette will be donated to 3 worthwhile groups:
a) Won - Ska School in P.A.
b) Joe Douquette School in Saskatoon
c) Team Saskatchewan, Aboriginal youth FSIN
The Broken Wing Singers are simply grateful for the opportunity to make the recording.