Haida songstress Carsen Gray has released a new single she hopes will bring people peace during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gray premiered the new song on April 12 — her first for 2020 — with the title “Sah ‘Laana,” which in Haida means creator, god or “the boss,” she told the Observer by phone.
The lyrics, supported by the beats of Vancouver-based producer ‘Vago,’ thank god for the beauty of the land on Haida Gwaii and the blessings Gray counts in her life, including her four-year-old son Matisse and one-year-old daughter Josette.
The accompanying music video, directed by Patrick Shannon’s InnoNative company and sponsored by the Taking It Global non-governmental organization, features visuals of Gray surrounded by nature and family. One shoot took place at a beach in Queen Charlotte, Gray said, and another was at her aunty Jenny Cross’ home in Skidegate.
“We had a fire lit and she was drumming and singing for us, and we had the kids dancing,” she said of the scene, adding that her cousin’s band Jason Camp and The Posers also participated.
“People say that it’s a very calming song.”
The religious genre of the song is relatively new for Gray, who has previously released acclaimed pop and electronic music. Her 2016 single “Wanna See You,” for example, had more black lights and b-boys than references to “the boss.”
But in an interview from three years ago, Gray said she was starting to take her music in a new direction. And speaking to the Observer on April 14, she said she’d been baptized after this past Christmas and became a born-again Christian with plans to “go more in that direction” musically.
“I’ll always continue to put out mainstream music,” she said. “But I definitely feel like there’s a calling for me to do gospel music.”
Gray added that she had plans to host a catered, community event and premiere the “Sah ‘Laana” video along with a question-and-answer period for local youth. However, due to COVID-19, she had to postpone.
“It’s just a matter of when the community will open back up,” she said of rescheduling.
In the meantime, she is putting a $10,000 grant she received from the Gwaii Trust Society in March to use.
Although she did not want to give away many details, she said the project is in collaboration with the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program.
“I’m very thankful and I plan to do some awesome things with that money,” she said.
“I just want to put out works that make the community proud.”
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