Nancy Johnson is a singer/songwriter and a member of Caldwell First Nation in southwestern Ontario of Cree/Metis origin. She was raised in Toronto in a musical family where she was exposed to many different music genres and learned to play a number of instruments including piano and guitar. Nancy performed folk music and old time country at family events and at coffeehouses hosted by the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. Her early influences included Buffy Sainte Marie, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and the Beatles.
Nancy's musical tastes grew to include powwow songs, rock and roll and later, jazz. In the 1990s she began writing songs, experimenting with combinations of folk and Indigenous chanting. Nancy and friend Carmen Jones co-founded Legacy, a women's musical group that performed original folk/bluegrass tunes on guitar, mandolin, violin and hand drum, performing at Aboriginal functions.
In 2001 Nancy began her career as a recording artist. Nancy's debut CD Pretty Good Sign is a unique blend of folk, blues and contemporary Indigenous music. Pretty Good Sign, a solo effort featuring Nancy's vocal and instrumental talents, earned her a nomination for Best Female Artist in the 2002 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. CD sales have supported Caldwell First Nation, the Ipperwash Inquiry, and young athlete Katrina Pitawanakwat (Wikwemikong First Nation).
Nancy's voice has been described as soulful and resonant. Listeners often comment on her evocative lyrics in songs such as "Cover Up" about the 1995 death of Dudley George at Ipperwash Park, which she performed at a Convocation Hall benefit in support of the Ipperwash Inquiry. Nancy has been active as a performer at dozens of venues including many First Nations community events and radio stations across Ontario, Canada's Wonderland, Rogers Cable 10 television and two APTN (Aboriginal People's Television Network) programs, Sur Scène and Buffalo Tracks.
Nancy's songs are inspired by life experience and share hopeful messages. She loves creating original melodies and lyrics and collaborating with other artists to achieve great music. Her new CD, Water Song (2006) showcases her masterful songwriting style and powerful voice. Produced and recorded in Toronto by Eugene Boyer from Batchewana First Nation, Water Song features twelve innovative folk/blues/Indigenous fusion tracks with a host of professional talent rounding out the project: Mark Kelso on drums and percussion; George Koller on bass; violinists Ann Lindsay and Rick Hyslop; Carlos Del Junco on harmonica; Denis Keldie on keyboard; Wendy Solomon on cello; Anne Werbitsky on dobro; Sameday Ray and KK Walsh of Loco Zydeco on accordion and rub-board; and Neil Paraffin and Yashushi on piano.
Indigenous contributions to the CD include tenor Hector Sturgeon from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in a duet with Nancy, Toronto-based Mayan flutist Ramsis Calderon and the vocal talents of Bonita Lawrence, Brenda MacIntyre, Meghan Meisters, Michele Perpaul and Rose Stella.
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