Water Women bring their Sacred Sound to Shelter Valley
have come together like the rivers of the land” opens Sweet Water Women’s bio. “Each woman has traveled
her path; over rocks, through valleys, around bends, bubbling and flowing, until each finally reached the body of water that
would contain and express them all together…”
That body of water is music.
After sharing their voices at a Drum Circle in Sudbury, Darlene, Deborah, Linda and Marilyn formed Sweet
Water Women to share their powerful harmonies and message with a larger circle. In their second year as a group, the women
are playing at summer festivals around Ontario, are soon releasing a CD of original material, and will be performing for a
CBC radio recording in Montreal this fall.
Sweet Water Women describe their music as “World Aboriginal... it has been greatly influenced by the
North American Aboriginal culture, and encompasses sacred sounds you might hear in many tribal societies around the globe.”
Singing their songs from the heart as prayers, they express their connection to Creation and hope others will connect through
“We want our music to touch people’s emotions, help connect them with Mother Earth and with things
that are of utmost importance in our lives, like water, trees, all of creation,” remarks Linda. Speaking for the group,
she says each of them brings something from the particular path they have traveled—their personal experiences, their
culture and their musical background—to their performance and their songs.
“The singing of songs is a powerful exercise,” she continues, “After gathering in drum circles,
we decided other people might want to hear [the songs].”
Two members of the group, Darlene and Deborah have backgrounds as solo musicians. Linda and Marilyn discovered
their voices through drum circles. Together their harmonies have attracted attention, including notice from the renowned folk
ensemble Tanglefoot, who guest on two songs on their first CD and will be joining them during their upcoming CBC performance.
“Our singing -- its intent is to express respect and gratitude,” says Linda. “It
is meant to soothe the soul. Sound is about vibration. The power of the drum, to us, is like the heartbeat of Mother Earth…sound
is a creative and healing force.... so,
when we put the power of the drum with the power of the intent of our singing, we touch people,” she continues.
It’s about resonance on many levels. Whether people want
to call it feeling the vibration, connecting, or sensing a resonance, they react to the sacred songs the Sweet Water Women
offer. Their songs, most of which have been written by Deborah, include chants
and feature drums, shakers, bells, didjeredoo, flute, or “anything they can make music with.”
Following Native tradition, teaching is integral to their music. At their live performances, they give the
teaching for each song, “so people are open to the feeling and understanding of what we are singing about in the songs,”
says Linda. “So they know the intent of the song.” Important, because Sweet Water Women typically sing songs in
languages other than English, such as Cree or Ojibwa. (On the CD, teachings, with English translation, are in the liner notes.)
Sweet Water Women see their purpose as carrying and spreading “the message of love, respect and gratitude,
through our music, words, thoughts and actions, to help bring peace, harmony and healing to Mother Earth and to All our Relations.”
can see the Sweet Water Women at the Shelter Valley Folk Festival where their message is echoed throughout the festival.
The Shelter Valley Folk Festival is an annual outdoor music event held Labour Day weekend. Folk, Roots and Blues musicians
from across North America will perform and conduct workshops on three stages. The family festival also featuraes a range
of specialty foods, an artists' village, a wellness and sustainable living area with interactive displays, and a children's
area with arts workshops. The festival is a volunteer run, non-profit community event.