Drumming Up Healing: Chubby Cree's Music Embraces Heritage And Unity

Re-Route Magazine
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8 min read
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May 18, 2024
Photo of two native americans. A grandmother and her grandson are dressed in their native garments for a powwow and are performing inside.

Nestled within the heart of Edmonton, an ageless rhythm resounds—a rhythm transcending generations, cultures, and time. Chubby Cree, the family drum group led by Carol Powder, isn't merely crafting melodies; they're weaving an intricate tapestry of unity, healing, and cultural resurgence, inviting allies to embark on a transformative journey. Chubby Cree's pulsating anthems carry an unwavering message: "Love Is the Answer." Despite hesitation and doubt, they embarked on a journey that defied their reservations. The hit "Rock Your World" is sung by Carol's grandson, Noah, a voice that would resonate globally and inspire thousands with its power.

Chubby Cree: Carol Powder and Noah Green

Echoes of Ancestral Wisdom

For Carol Powder, the drum is far more than an instrument; it's a vessel of profound significance, carrying the wisdom and dreams of generations past. Chubby Cree's odyssey commenced with the spiritually resonant words of Carol's grandfather, Harry Powder, known as Maskwa—The Bear. He shared with her a profound understanding—that the drum's beats bear the wisdom of their ancestors. This spiritual bridge connects the past, present, and future. He prophesied that Carol would become a beacon of inspiration for women and children, guiding them back to the sacred drum. This vision, whispered by her grandfather, carried a profound message: restoring the status of women was pivotal to healing the world. Against the backdrop of colonization and eroded traditions, Harry Powder's words resounded like an ancient drumbeat.

Women's Empowerment Through Rhythm

Chubby Cree's journey hasn't been without hurdles. They encountered skepticism about their relevance and pushback against women drummers. Carol Powder firmly defies this notion. By challenging the idea that women can't drum, she seeks to dismantle the misconceptions that have shadowed Indigenous communities for decades. In the spirit of unity, she invites male elders to immerse themselves in the female drumming's healing power and dispel long-held fears that hinder progress.

For Carol Powder, the drum's heartbeat resonates with the echoes of a matriarchal past that history had relegated to the shadows. Cree women used to lead everything, Powder states. In Indigenous cultures, women held pivotal roles in their families and communities. They were the artisans, healers, and decision-makers, shaping the destinies of their people. However, colonization disrupted this delicate balance, leading to the loss of Indigenous knowledge and traditions.

Noah Green: A Voice for Humanity and Nature

Noah's voice carries a purpose that transcends mere melodies—it resonates as a tribute to humanity and nature alike. His soulful singing is a testament to his unwavering dedication, weaving healing into the very fabric of his music. With Carol Powder, his grandmother, as his guiding light, Noah's connection to his craft runs deep; he lovingly refers to her as "mom," reflecting her role since his earliest days.

But Noah's performances are more than artistic displays; they are a deliberate and profound endeavor. His singing isn't just for show—it's a heartfelt offering to people and the natural world. Each note he releases holds the promise of hope and rejuvenation for the environment. His melodies are a rallying cry, urging listeners to recognize the intricate web of life that binds us all.

His journey in the realm of performance has been harmonious, marked by nearly 900 public appearances that have shaped him into a seasoned artist. His stage presence exudes authenticity, effortlessly forging connections with his audience. Beyond entertainment, Noah's performances are about sharing his very essence, a piece of his heart and soul laid bare for all to witness.

Beyond the Drums: Messages of Unity

Chubby Cree's message extends beyond the rhythm of their drums. Through music, they address social issues, champion women's rights and environmental initiatives, and honor the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Their poignant performances resonate deeply with audiences, with many acknowledging the profound impact Chubby Cree has had on their souls.

Elevating Tradition: Spiritual Preparations and Unity

Before gracing the stage, the group engages in pre-performance preparations that transcend the physical realm. They invoke the spirits of their ancestors through prayers, smudging, and sacred songs. In a heartfelt invocation, they beckon the spiritual grandmothers to lend their presence, guidance, and healing touch. An offering of tobacco, a gesture of gratitude to Mother Earth for her bountiful gifts, marks the culmination of their performance. This gesture symbolizes reciprocity and harmony.

Guiding the Path: Embracing Nature and Self-Respect

Carol Powder's wisdom and love extend beyond music, reaching out to guide the younger generations. She celebrates their awareness of their power to make change and encourages them to be compassionate, gentle, and kind to one another. Her message to the young people is a call for unity, a reminder that we are all connected in this journey.

Noah Green and Carol Powder of Chubby Cree perform during the Global Climate Strike rally at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. Thousands of students across the country joined together to call for action on climate change. Edmonton Journal | PHOTO BY IAN KUCERAK /Postmedia

She also imparts invaluable guidance to the young individuals she encounters—providing cautionary insights about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and emphasizing self-respect and caring for our bodies. Notably, she underscores the profound significance of nourishing the body with proper nutrition. Carol advises young people to dedicate time to acquainting themselves with the trees to foster connection. She says, "Step outside, remove your shoes, ground yourself, and establish connections with both your roots and others."

Future Harmonies

As they look ahead, Chubby Cree remains steadfast in their mission to spread love, connection, and healing. With a new album and music video, "O Kanata," on the horizon, they continue to embrace their role as torchbearers of indigenous wisdom. Their songs are not only music; they are medicine for a fractured world. The legac Harry Powder lives on, etched into every drumbeat and melody, guiding Chubby Cree as they navigate new horizons and new harmonies.

Venturing through Kanata, the Chubby Cree are on a mission of healing. Stay connected, show your support, and stay updated by following them on Instagram and Facebook.

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