Songs in the Key of Cree (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Songs in the Key of Cree

credit: Sean Howard

Retrospective cabaret provides an excellent snapshot of the career of Tomson Highway

Cree-Canadian playwright, pianist and composer Tomson Highway has a career that spans over thirty years, with multiple awards and accolades to his name, alongside plays, novels, children's books and songs. Retrospective cabaret Songs in the Key of Cree takes audiences on a journey through his illustrious career, via some of his best tunes from works including the 2010 musical The (Post) Mistress and Rose, the third in his famous 'Rez Cycle'.

The songs are performed by Peruvian-Canadian cabaret singer Patricia Cano, whose vocals are utterly electrifying, with jazz saxophonist Marcus Ali accompanying and Highway on the piano. The symmetry between Cano and Ali is at times spine-tinglingly beautiful, as both musicians do great justice to Highway's soulful tunes. A particular highlight is Cano's delivery of the impressive 'When Last I Was in Buenos Aires, Argentina', but there are also moments where Highway tackles more serious topics, such as hard-hitting 'The Lunch', his response to the rape and murder of Cree woman Helen Betty Osborne in 1971.

As well as providing a unique chance to hear the native Canadian language, Songs in the Key of Cree features a range of musical styles from jazz to country, giving a wonderful sample of one of Canada's favourite playwrights.

CanadaHub @ King's Hall, until 18 Aug, 7pm, £11 (£9).

Songs in the Key of Cree

  • 4 stars

Tomson Highway, Patricia Cano, Marcus Ali, CanadaHub Born in a snow bank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters, Cree playwright, pianist and musician Tomson Highway has been called one of the most important Canadians in history (Maclean's Magazine). Presented by Indigenous Contemporary…