The inside scoop

Powerhouse couple Shoshona Kish and Raven Kanatakta of Digging Roots and Dione Taylor will bring you a night of earthy, soulful R&B on February 23rd at 8 pm in a double bill you don’t want to miss. With two very unique styles, both Digging Roots and Dione Taylor honour their roots and family heritage while providing insight to the places and people they have met along the way.

An interview with Digging Roots:

Your music is an eclectic mix of traditional rhythm and Anishinabek song lines infused with a country-rock blend. With your upcoming tour to Australia, do you find your music is transformative from coast to coast?

The songs of Digging Roots are a blend of traditional and contemporary music; from Anishinabek to reggae to blues. Having been raised on a small Rez in northern Quebec and later on in the city – the natural inclination was to amalgamate music that was modern, traditional, political, popular and universal. Having just toured abroad in Australia, the audiences there were fantastic and we introduced them to our ‘Round Dances’ and the crowds all came up to the stage and danced. It’s really empowering when audiences are not afraid of being themselves and want to move with the music and its rhythms. Music can be a transformative experience that transcends language, race and politics.

What is the most important message would you like to share with your listeners through the release of your new single ‘AK-47’?

This song is very personal and emotional for us, its a song about peace. The world is in a time where we need to invest in more compassion, empathy and understanding towards each other. It takes the naive notion that if love could be put into a gun instead of bullets…then what kind of world would we be living in? ‘AK-47’ is about opening fire on hate, oppression and violence. This song is about courage and the idea that its time to change the whole paradigm. Stop the violence, against each other, ourselves, against the land. There’s an Anishinabemowin word in the chant at the end of the song that distills it all for us. “Nizoogide’e”, it translates to “my heart is a stronghold”.

As a powerhouse couple you have toured across the world. What tour has stood out most along the way and why?

We’ve had so many tours that have been so amazing, each time it’s a journey into the unknown and we always walk away learning something new; from foods and medicines, to languages and history, to cultural teachings. For the last 15 years we’ve brought our two sons with us on tour and it’s been one of the best ways that I know of how to pass an education forward as a parent. A definite overall highlight has been having our sons with us through all these years of traveling. So far we’ve done four tours to Australia and a fifth one is coming this April. It’s a special place that seems to stand out because of the historical similarities to Canada. Musically there’s something in the water there because the musicians are so amazingly musical. We recently played the Woodford Folk Festival which has an audience of over 250,000 people who are all lovers of music; so it’s a good place to be a musician.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians looking to start their careers?

My advice for an up and coming musician would be…make sure you really love what you’re doing. Love your road, your vision, yourself; be passionate. The stressors that exist in life can be tough so to make a living at something you love is definitely an aid. It’s worse if you’re making a wage at something you don’t love. If you find enjoyment from your job, you’ll enjoy your life more.

For those in the Guelph area who have never seen you perform before, what can they expect on Feb 23rd?

What can Guelph expect…a good time for sure, we call it bimaadziwin. Expect to smile a little, sing a little and dance a little, or a lot. Once the first person makes their dance moves, it’s easier for everyone to jump in. Life is something to be enjoyed and music is a good companion!

An interview with Dione Taylor:

Your 2016 album, Born Free, has been described as a personal piece allowing you to reconnect to your childhood … in ten words or less how would you describe your experience growing up as a pastor’s daughter in the prairies of Regina?

BORN FREE represents the gospel, jazz and blues music that influenced me as a kid.

Known for your soulful prairie gospel style – who are some of your idols you’ve been inspired by over the years?

I’m heavily influenced by Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughan, Son House, Oscar Peterson & Andrae Crouch.

Throughout your discography you have featured songs such as “Born Free”, “Resist”,“Higher Ground”, “Open Your Eyes”, and “I’ve got the world on a string”. In addition to the theme of empowerment, what other lessons would you like your audience to take away from your music?

My music represents freedom & survival. I choose to sing and write positive songs because I believe in the power of words and intention. As a Black Canadian Female, I’m discovering that there are not many “voices” out there similar to mine. My goal is to share my experiences and to shine a positive light on Black Canadian history. Not all of it is bad.

In the fall of 2018 you will be launching a new album. Is there anything you can share with your fans about this collection, your vision or your experience creating this album?

I’ve had the privilege of recording Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom” and I’m excited to include it in the upcoming album. This song is the perfect marriage of Gospel, Jazz and Blues and the lyrics are timeless. I’m busy writing some new material too so I’m excited to share these songs as well with my fans.

For those in the Guelph area who have never seen you perform before, what can they expect on Feb 23rd?

“Fiery, sassy and savory”,  “soulful, high energy”, “a great combination of earthy blues, gospel and roots music”, “She had the audience jumping to her Prairie Blues sound”, “Her performance was exceptional and was a contributing factor to the success of this year’s Festival.”– This is how critics describe performances of Dione Taylor & The Backsliderz. My band and I put on an exciting and electrifying show every time, leaving no doubt that we love what we are doing.

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