The Spiritual Warriors Sing For Their Brothers & Sisters

The B.C. band blend Indigenous chants with reggae to create their unique sound.

The Spiritual Warriors encourage their Brothers & Sisters to come home in their uplifting and mesmerizing new single — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

With vocals that move smoothly between English to U’cwalmicwts, the Lil’wat language — all set to a reggae beat — Spiritual Warriors create a unique and intriguing fusion of two culturally important styles on the second single from their recent album Indigenize. Meanwhile, the song’s lyrics tackle on social issues endemic to Canada’s many Indigenous nations. Father/daughter vocalists Leroy Joe and Daisy Joe lament the countless Indigenous brothers and sisters who end up homeless, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or working on the streets. “This song is to let them know that they are still welcome home,” Leroy says, “that there is a fire waiting for them to keep them warm and that their grandmothers, grandfathers, and ancestors have not abandoned them.”

During live performances, the singer and guitarist says he often gets a lump in his throat while thinking of friends and family members who ended up on the streets, some never making it back home to Lil’wat Nation, near Pemberton, B.C. “I pray and sing for those trying to make it back home,” he says. “The song was so hard to write. I kept weeping while writing it.”

The Spiritual Warriors weave together Indigenous chants with contemporary roots, rock and reggae to create a sound that reflects life in the coastal mountains of the Lil’wat Nation. It’s uncanny how seamlessly well they combine Indigenous drumming and chanting with the cadences of reggae. It’s a marriage that makes perfect sense, with drummer Rich Doucet, bassist Mike Rowe, guitarist Cuyler Biller and keyboardist Quentin De Lorenzis setting a perfect rock-steady reggae beat for Leroy and Daisy.

Brothers & Sisters follows the recent single Oh Ama Sq’it, written in Leroy’s St’at’imcets language, also native to the Lil’wat Nation. A joyful, upbeat track, almost calypso in feel, it encourages people to get up, have fun and dance. It’s a big hit during their live performances. Both tracks appear on Indigenize, recorded at Abbotsford’s Studio Downe Under and produced and engineered by Leroy’s long-time collaborator Andreas Schuld. Leroy says the record is Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation initiative and the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls campaign.

Indigenize features eight tracks written by Leroy with the mission to give hope to his people and help non-Indigenous folks to better understand the issues that are still faced today by First Nations people. Composer Russell Wallace, longtime friend and original member of the band, co-wrote two tracks and arranged vocal harmonies on the album. Musicians on Indigenize include Norm Fisher, Rich Brown and Geeta Das, as well as special guests rappers Geo the Voice (George Ignace, Secwepemculucw) and Ostweleve (Ronnie Dean Harris, Stō:lo/St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux).

The Spiritual Warriors’ 2019 album Ancestors received four Native American Music Awards nominations in, winning for Best World Music Album. In the group’s previous incarnation as Kalan Wi, they won a 2013 NAMA for Best Historical/Linguistic Recording for their album Celebrate.

Watch the lyric video for Brothers & Sisters above, check out Indigenize below, and find The Spiritual Warriors on their website and Facebook.

 

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