"Somebody Pray" by Buffy MacNeil (First Nations, Canada)



From her website:


Buffy MacNeil was born in Arichat, Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, Canada, the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Mi’kmaq. Her musical roots are inspired by her mixed-race ancestry of Scottish, Acadian, and Mi’kmaw. Buffy was encouraged to sing and perform since the age of five. It was her grandfather's love of the fiddle musicians such as Winston Fitzgerald, Lee Cremo, and the young Ashley MacIsaac that inspired her to play music. Her grandmother bought Buffy her first fiddle when she was eleven and was later mentored by Cape Breton fiddle legends, John Donald Cameron and later Gordon Cote. Her vocals, a unique natural soprano, are pure, distinct, and dynamic while drawing the audience into a powerful and transformative world.


The “Somebody Pray Project” began to come to unfold in January 2021 when Buffy MacNeil envisioned the ways she could support the health and well-being of Indigenous youth. As an artist/singer and educator, the lyrics to “Somebody Pray” came pouring out as she reflected on those in her life who have been impacted by the violent history of the Indian Residential School system in Canada. During a conversation with the late Dr. Isabelle Knockwood (residential school warrior), Buffy was asked by Isabelle to “promise not to forget her stories”. Buffy explains that “Dr. Knockwood’s words resonated as I put pen to paper in an attempt to honor those who have suffered so terribly in these institutions.


The purpose of the “Somebody Pray Project” is to support the creation of a youth care and advocacy centre in the community of the Paq'tnkek Mi’kmaw Nation. The GoFundMe Voices for the Silenced of Residential Schools is to assist with the completion of the album that features “Somebody Pray”. It is the hope that this album will bring further awareness of social justice issues, and ultimately contribute toward the youth centre.


As this Project moves forward, Buffy believes “that music and the arts are important for community and individual healing and education”. She further explains that “many people in my life have been affected personally by the Indian residential schools. My heart was thinking of my daughters, their families, and other relations in my life, who have been affected across and within generations."

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