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Shekoli (Hello). My name is Frazer Garison Sundown. I am from the Oneida Nation of the Turtle Clan. I was taught to carry myself with respect in all walks of life by my father, Sheldon Sundown. Not only has he passed on the knowledge of what it is to be a singer, he has shared his passion for our ways with me as well, which has led me to be the man I am today. I also indulge in other art forms such as Corn Husk Weaving. I became involved with Indigenous singing as it has brought a sense of identity for myself. Singing has brought much success into my life, having the opportunities to perform with Juno-Award winning artists and travelling overseas to Europe to perform while sharing my passion in my music. The music that I share isn't about the sound of it, it's about the sharing of knowledge & encouragement of culture that Indigenous People across Turtle Island are proud of!
Download songs composed by Sheldon and Frazer Sundown.
First of all, your music is gorgeous! When did you start singing and playing the hand drum and singing?
I can't remember an exact time that I very first started singing. My family has always been around Indigenous music such as going to Powwows, Ceremonies, and many different cultural events. Through that exposure of cultural music, it is where I picked up the gift of singing. They teach us that when our voices change is when we become singers or whatever gifts we may hold. In my early teenage years is when I started exposing myself as a singer.
How does your music help you stay connected with your aboriginal roots?
My music connects me to my roots in many aspects. I get a sense of spirituality through the different emotion that is being revealed while singing. A lot of the songs may have language in them and so, that entitles me to learn what the words are and what they mean which connects me to my roots big time. With singing comes dancing, and these different dance styles require a different kind of song, this also entitles me to learn more about Indigenous Culture.
What else keeps you connected?
I recently made the choice to go back to school. I plan on becoming a language teacher so, the program I have been taking keeps me connected as well. I am a father so having to keep up with making outfits for my daughter to partake in cultural events keeps me connected.
What messages do you hope to send through your music?
I want to encourage youth from all of our Nations and Tribes to continue to do follow their ways that their ancestors passed on to them and that leading a good & healthy life is what these ways of our ancestors intended for us. Also, our music is cool thing which brings joy to all of the world as opposed to just our people.
What nourishes your soul or helps you find balance during a tough time? What keeps you grounded?
Music is a definite number 1 answer for this. I usually resort to writing whether it would be in a journal or a new song when I'm going through a hurdle in life. Sometimes it doesn't always work so, I try to find other things to do such as working with Corn Husk or arts and crafts that contribute to my culture and heritage.
What does community mean to you and what role has it played in your life?
Community means a lot of things to me. I guess the equivalent for community would have to be “Family”. My community has definitely played a big role in singing because my “family” from many different places connected me to other people such as my self. Being connected in such a way has opened many doors for me pertaining to my skills in art.
First Nations youth die by suicide about 5 to 6 times more often than non--‐Aboriginal youth. Suicide rates for Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average. What do you want to say to a young person struggling?
I look at life’s struggles as if they were hurdles that I have to get ready to jump over like in Track & Field. I found out that in every choice I make, there is always going to be a hurdle. If I prepare my self mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, I can handle what life throws at me. It's all about having that positive outlook on things and assuring yourself that everything is going to be okay and for the best.
What do you want to see change in our system and society?
So much could be said to this question. What is most important to me is our future generations to come. I would like to see the many leaderships in the world to take these future generations to come into consideration when making decisions. Another important issue if I may, is that the Indigenous People of North America be recognized as they are and within the means of their ways. We shouldn't be categorized into one group with only one way to follow. We are all different and follow different ways as there are many Indigenous groups.
Both you and your dad, Sheldon Sundown, also a musician, have recorded songs with A Tribe Called Red. If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who else would that be?
Fav quote or Aboriginal saying?
Tomorrow is another day to start over.
Photo captured from YouTube video by Frazer Sundown
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