Hailing from Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, B.C., Carsen Gray is a Haida Indigenous and mixed descent award-winning singer/songwriter and is no stranger to a life of art, music, and entertainment.
Photo by Liz Rosa
Carsen’s early career took off when she became a regional finalist in the CBC 2015 Searchlight contest leading her to the creation of her debut self-titled album, released in 2017. Following the debut release of her singles, “Supernatural” and “Wanna See You” reached number one on the NCI FM Indigenous Music Countdown. That same year, Carsen was awarded “Best New Artist” presented by SiriusXM, at the 2017 Indigenous Music Awards.
In 2017 Carsen Gray released her debut self-titled album, which garnered her an award – “Best New Artist” presented by SiriusXM, at the Indigenous Music Awards. Carsen Gray also received 2 nominations “Best Pop Album” and Best Radio Single for “Supernatural”. Carsen has collaborated with her father, Robert Gray, known to have played alongside Nick Gilder in the band “Sweeney Todd”, and niece of Bobby Taylor, most noted for his discovery and mentoring of Michael Jackson.
We caught up with the Skidegate-based musician on making new music and staying creative during COVID.
Tell us about life as a musician in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Life as a musician on Haida Gwaii is great. My partner just built a beautiful home studio so it’s a real blessing to be able to create from home. My community has always been so excited for me and supportive as well, so it’s been awesome!
How have you stayed creative and inspired over the last year?
The current state of the world with covid has really got me still pushing to work hard and continue to make music. I’m blessed to be able to make a living doing what I do, which also grants me the freedom to be creative.
Carsen Gray in Sah ‘Laana
In your more recent song ‘Sah ‘Laana’, you explore spiritual themes of the land and your family, can you tell us a bit about your inspiration in creating the song and video?
My inspiration for Sah’Laana was just giving the Creator praise and thanks for all my blessings such as my children, family, the wonderful community I come from, and the beautiful land I live on.
What advice do you have for emerging Indigenous artists that want to break into the music industry?
Get a good team around you who believe in you and want to see you be successful in your career. Someone to write grants for you, management, booking agents, creative director…If you’re already buzzin, keeping it pushing, and If you’re passionate about your music, you have zero reason to give up.
Tell us about your new song ‘Little One’
Little One was written by Ron Martin, a late friend of my dad and I’s. The video also features my dad accompanying me by piano. Ron had really wanted me to sing one of his songs for a long time, and I found one I felt like I connected with but sadly before the recording of the song he passed away. In honour of him I wanted to put out the song.
Are you working on anything new we can expect to hear soon?
Yes definitely, I have some really awesome features coming out in the near future and I am so excited to announce that I just recently signed a deal with Nettwerk Music Group. I’m super excited to see where this opportunity will lead my career next.
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