So much has happened for Welland, Ontario born singer-songwriter Shawnee Kish within a few short years. Music was destiny for the two-spirit Kanyen'kehà:ka (Mohawk) singer while she wrote songs as a small child, before performing publicly as a Shania Twain impersonator. Soon she left pretending behind and got real – real fiery, real unleashed – which led her to hit Billboard’s 2019 Musicians You Need to Know list, win CBC’s 2020 Searchlight competition, and perform with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Of course, with unadulterated talent and a powerhouse voice that carries melody and mood aloft on a stream that feeds from classic sounds from the soul of pop, Kish attracted industry folks set on directing her course. But this surging river of inspiration will not be channelled. She even wrote a song, “Mr. Tie,” about the experience of having people try to tell her how to look, sound and be. Not grown up on a reserve, Kish struggled with her Indigenous identity along with her two-spirit nature, and worked too hard to understand who she is to allow a twisting of her image. Thus, in creating from the heart – which cannot be directed nor dressed – rather than the head, Kish joins other Indigenous artists who sing out the sounds they hear in their spirit, expectations be damned.
Biography by Mary-Lynn Wardle