Edmonton singer always looking for ways to invest in young artists

Award-winning singer-songwriter Kaeley Jade will perform at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Thursday for PACI fundraiser More than a Room, and at the Rock Trout Café on Friday. -- Photo by Brizsa Pedroso.

Wherever she travels in the musical world, Metis artist Kaeley Jade tries to support the next generation of artists.

The Edmonton-based singer does it at home, helping run a theatre project for Indigenous youth in the Edmonton Catholic School system called “Braided Journeys”, and she’ll continue that trend in Prince Albert by performing at Prince Albert Collegiate Institute fundraiser More than a Room on Thursday.

“I love working with youth,” the award-winning musician said during a phone interview on Wednesday. “I think it’s very important, now more than ever, that we continue to do that.”

“I got my start in music when I was nine and I started theatre at a very similar age too, so having role models to look up to and be able to aspire to was so important for me in kind of figuring out who I was as an artist at a young age and definitely moving into high school too. I started playwriting, I started acting more seriously for theatre, and having opportunities like that to share my work, to collaborate with others, and to receive feedback from mentors has really shaped who I am as an artist, so I really want to make sure that I’m investing my youth in my community and other communities.”

The PACI fundraiser will be one of two stops in Prince Albert during Jade’s tour. After performing as the featured singer/songwriter at More than a Room on Thursday, Jade will take to the Rock Trout Café stage for a more intimate set on Friday, accompanied by guitarist/percussionist/vocalist Gabriel Gagnon.

It will be the second time she’s performed in Prince Albert, with the first coming roughly one year ago. The first trip was what actually helped convince her join forces with PACI for More than a Room.

“(PACI teacher) Alicia Wotherspoon actually reached out to me because she’d been at my show last year,” Jade said. “She was talking about how she was excited to see us play and then she realized we would be there the literal day after More than a Room this year, so she reached out to me via email and pitched the fundraiser and what it’s all about.

“For me, I come from a degree in the fine arts, so I think it’s so important to be continuing to invest in our young people and in the arts programs that they have…. It’s very close to my heart and I’m very thrilled to be doing this.”

Friday’s set at the Rock Trout will feature songs from Jade’s latest album, Turpentine, plus some new work she’s eager to play for the first time. Her style is a mix of pop, folk, and indie music, and it’s received plenty of positive reviews—most recently at the Canadian Folk Music Awards where she was nominated for three awards, eventually winning Indigenous Songwriter of the Year.

Jade said it was a great honour to receive the award, but it also caught her off guard. She performed at the awards live with her band, and had just returned to her seat when she heard her name called.

“It was just kind of a whirlwind of adrenaline,” she remembered. “I got called, and I was way up in the balcony so I had to make my way in my really tall boots down the stairs and up the stairs. It was very incredible. I’m so honoured to be recognized by my peers in that way.”

Jade will finish off her first round of summer shows with performances in Saskatoon and North Battleford on May 25 and May 26 respectively.

She has a tour through Alberta planned for the summer, with a stop in Fernie, B.C. at the Wapiti Music Festival scheduled for August. After that, Jade is headed back to the recording studio for a new project.

Kaeley Jade will perform live at the Rock Trout Café on Friday, May 24 with special guest Brenner Holash. The doors open at 7:30 p.m., with music at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.

More than a Room begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. Tickets are available at www.earc.ca or from the Rawlinson Box Office.