By Lauren Carter
Rain falls in the first track of Cindy Scott’s impressive first album, This Northern Girl, bringing to mind an all-day autumn shower in the woods near Fort Vermilion in Northern Alberta, where Scott’s life – and career – began.
Armed at the age of eight with the instruments of voice and guitar, Scott, of Metis descent, learned early what course of life she wished to follow. As a young teenager she began composing her own songs and, eventually, through sustained efforts toward being and becoming a musician, she found herself performing with Buffy St. Marie and Tom Jackson.
Following this came the production of her first full-length album, This Northern Girl.
Scott was recently nominated for the 2002 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards for Best Songwriter; Best Female Artist, and the album for the 2002 Prairie Music Week’s Outstanding Aboriginal Recording.
A mix of country, folk, bluegrass and blues, Scott brings her lyrics to life with a voice able to excel through a wide range – from the simple folk-like melody of Fondest Memories to the expertly-done higher notes in A Child and the clear, solid strength of the nearly acapella version Now He Can Fancy Dance.
Her lyrics are similarly diverse, recounting experiences familiar to many. In Waiting for the Pain she solemnly sits in the bar, eyeing the guy with the “rowdy way talk and your good time boy smile”while “hoping that tonight you might love me.”
Following this sweet, sad song – one that inspires memories for most women, at least for me – is the upbeat, optimistic Looking Back. In this song is the power of a woman in control of her own life.
Drumming on her guitar, Cindy sings with strength and conviction about the course of a life drawn along by learning and hope in a tune that demands either dancing or driving fast with windows rolled down, voice singing loudly along.
All told, the dozen songs, inspired by events in her own life and the lives of people around her, present a varied look at challenges and victories, all recounted through Scott’s vocals and a variety of rhythms and instruments.
In Now He Can Fancy Dance, a very powerful song about a man finding the truth of his heritage and himself after this truth was taken from him in a residential school, an idgeridoo intones in the background. Piano, bongos and background singers compliment Scott’s voice in Bird in a Cage.
With its mix of melancholy and determination, This Northern Girl is like a photo album spread from somebody’s life. Yet its overall tone is one of courage in overcoming the obstacles.
And perhaps this is how Cindy Scott has come as far as she has. Certainly, with the strength and hope that are evident in her first album, she’s going to go far. One listens to Sam’s Song – a song that addresses the fear of becoming a single mother and what it takes to overcome it – will show you that. It’s inspiration in the truest form.