by Casey Ling
photo by Tracy Creighton of Copperblue Photography and Design
When we think of Saskatchewan music, there are a number of musicians that come to mind. But one that almost everyone is familiar with is Eliza Doyle. From touring with large bands to session recordings to her own solo work, Eliza has done more in her fifteen-year music career than I have in my twenty-five years of life. Her passion for sharing the arts is also clear as seen in her non-profit group C.A.M.P., as well as anti-racist programming that she includes with her yearly “Doylefest”. I thehad a chance to chat with Eliza about what she’s been doing recently, her new album, and her upcoming plans for the year.
When asked about her music, Eliza threw out the term “Canadiana”, a term I haven’t heard before. A style similar to “Americana”, but with a larger focus on Canadian nationalism. While “Americana” revolves around subjects like lifestyle and American culture, “Canadiana” draws inspiration from the community, something that is so diverse in this country. Similarly, Eliza’s music is drawn from other members of the community. Her music speaks of the here and now as well as the people around her.
Since moving to Prince Albert, I have noticed that everything that is done here is in such a tight-knit group. It is almost impossible to speak to someone without hearing the phrase “Oh yeah I know them”. That isn’t to say that this mentality isn’t present in larger cities. I actually heard of Eliza when I first moved to Regina during my internship at SaskMusic. She has cemented herself as an icon of Saskatchewan music regardless of where in the province you are. She has created a community of musicians in this province and has shown us that the circle of musicians in this province is one that is always authentic and supportive.
Authenticity was a word that kept coming back to me when listening to Eliza's newest album Pretty Strange. The album could be summed up as the past six years of Eliza’s life. The half-decade backlog of songs creates a spur-of-the-moment feeling, providing us with snapshots of the folk artist's life. More importantly, the album doesn’t skirt away from hard-to-discuss topics such as mental health and inequalities in the world. All of this is supported by the atmospheric string work Doyle provides all through a raw and live studio recording. The entire album draws focus on the need for empathy and our connection to our emotions, something that I feel like needs to be recognized more in this day and age.
Eliza has also done extensive work using music as a medium for social and emotional learning with her C.A.M.P. project. The Community Arts Mentorship Program strives to represent the underserved communities of Saskatchewan using music as its medium. The award-winning program has branched into different genres such as hip-hop, fiddle, and rock music. Regardless of the program, all of them aim to use music as a way to foster mentorship and support in the community.
Similarly, the “province renowned” Doylefest has made strides in not only promoting Saskatchewan artists but also working towards decolonization and training music teachers within the non-profit sector. The three-day festival has been used to feature a wide range of musicians while supporting the C.A.M.P. initiative. Doylefest historically has been used as a “last kick at the can” for Saskatchewan musicians to showcase their skills right before the summer season concludes. While no firm date is set for this year, make sure to keep your eyes open for upcoming announcements.
Eliza Doyle is set to begin her US tour on March 29th with a set of Canadian tour dates to be announced soon.