Her voice wowed Haida Gwaii a long time ago, but everyone off island is catching on.
Singer Carsen Gray is up for three Indigenous Music Awards on Friday, May 19, including Best Pop Album and Best New Artist for her first full-length record, Carsen Gray.
‘Supernatural,’ the album’s EDM opener, is also nominated for Best Radio Single.
“It’s an incredible feeling — I didn’t expect this to happen,” said Gray, speaking at home in Skidegate.
Besides performing at the awards after-party next Friday and touring her album through Québec and points east this summer with Red Rockerz, Gray will also sing on the Vancouver stage of APTN’s five-city Aboriginal Day Live event, her second time at the June 21 show.
“It’s getting bigger and bigger,” she said.
Even so, it will be hard to measure up to Gray’s first performance at the islands’ own Edge of the World Music Festival in August.
It’s here at the Tlell festival that islanders might get to hear Gray sing over beats courtesy of Dan General, a.k.a. DJ Shub, when the two perform their club hit, ‘Wanna See You,’ another highlight on her début.
The last time Carsen Gray sang on island, she was 13, and already an open-mic veteran at the QC Legion.
It was actually while singing at a Vancouver nightclub a couple years earlier that Gray was scouted for her role as Tiger Lily in the 2003 film, Peter Pan.
For several years, she made only a handful of trips back from Saskatoon, where she and her partner, rapper Joey Stylez, share a home studio.
But just before Christmas, Gray returned home to Skidegate.
“I feel like it’s a really great place to raise my son,” she said, speaking shortly before her 13-month-old woke from a nap to prove he’s got some powerful pipes of his own.
“I feel like everyone looks out for each other, and a lot of great things have started here since I left,” she said.
Among those great new things are fellow islands musicians, including her cousin James McGuire, one-half of the talent and maybe more of the ego behind punk band Jason Camp & The Posers.
“He’s a really great performer,” said Gray, laughing.
“I was surprised — I didn’t know he was into music.”
Gray said she is already writing songs for her next album, which she wants to take into a whole new direction. “I love listening to pop and electronic music, but I want to move into a more mature, adult-contemporary sound,” she said, adding that her biggest fans, her family, always want to hear more of her voice.
“It was fun, and I like experimenting,” she said of her début. “It’s always been difficult for me to pick one lane and stay in it, because I feel like I could sing anything.” To see videos from Carsen Gray or stream the album, visit www.carsengray.com.