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Indigenous singer-songwriters tell stories their way

Indigenous talent Jay Gilday and Kaeley Jade co-headline at final concert of 2023 Plaza Series

The music industry is exploding with Indigenous singer-songwriters spanning multiple genres. They disclose their stories expressed with universal truths that relate to everyone. 

For the final week of the 2023 Plaza Series, St. Albert will host Jay Gilday and Kaeley Jade on Thursday, Aug. 31. Gilday is an Irish-Dene recording artist from Yellowknife whose profile has spiked within the last five years. Meanwhile Kaeley Jade, a Métis singer-songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist, was born in Fort McMurray, but raised on an acreage near Ardrossan.  

Both performers lean towards folk music, yet with wildly different musical tinges producing diverse vibes. While Gilday weaves together his dual ancestral traditions — Dene spirituals, Irish ballads as well as Canadian folk and rock, Jade’s music intersects between pop, forward indie and folk. 

Jay Gilday 

Following the award-winning Faster Than Light (2016), Gilday’s latest project is The Choice and the Chase (2019), an introspective look at places the songwriter wished to visit and things he wanted to see as opposed to the choices one makes. 

“It’s a meditation. I try to provide universal comments from my own life that are relatable to everyone,” said Gilday. 

Raised in the Northwest Territory's government centre, he grew up with one foot in each of his parents’ worlds. He moved to Edmonton in the late ‘90s and discovered new facets of life. 

“I was too bush for the city and when I went back to Yellowknife, I was too city for the bush.” 

But as a bridge between both worlds, it has helped him understand social-political problems in Canada. 

“I see very clearly the inequalities and ways they can be addressed. It can be frustrating knowing how things can be dealt with, but I’m fortunate having both perspectives in my music.” 

There was a time Gilday was part of a rock ‘n roll band. Currently, he performs solo. 

“Since I’ve grown up, music has been my favourite form of expression. You can have a five-minute conversation with someone and know something about them while listening to their music.” 

The singer-songwriter hopes to release a “bunch of new songs” in the spring of 2024. As a family man with four children, the new album will focus on those closest to him and his need to be present in their lives. 

“I’m exploring family and my history with the kids. I want to define the universal aspirations and fears I have for my children, and show what they can teach me.” 

Kaeley Jade 

Jade is a multiple-award winner who has built a professional career in theatre, film and music. Similar to other successful singers, Jade started taking vocal and performance lessons at the early age of nine. She gradually built confidence singing at major events such Tim Hortons Brier, K-Days, assorted provincial rodeos and folk festivals across Canada. 

“This summer I had 40 shows in four different provinces including the Edmonton Folk Fest and Calgary Folk Fest. It was really surreal looking out from the Edmonton hill and seeing thousands of people,” said Jade who also holds a BFA degree in theatre from the University of Alberta. 

Her latest album is Turpentine, an eight-track full-length bursting with a romantic flair. 

“It explores the relationships we share so intimately, not just romantic, but platonic and family. At the root, it builds intimacy and relationships,” Jade said. 

Turpentine is the singer-songwriter's first album release blending established and newer songs. She describes it as a “time capsule of who I was and who I became.” 

Turpentine is like the new ground and flowers in spring. It’s about the people close to you who uplift you, especially if they believe in you. In the lyrics, Turpentine strips away all the negativity, the depression, the things that make us freeze up and be in pain.” 

Jade performs at the Plaza Series supported by her partner/guitarist Gabriel Gagnon. 

Plaza Series concerts start at 7:30 p.m. at St. Albert Place Plaza, 5 St. Anne Street. Single tickets are $15 or $120 for a premium table seating six. Contact the Arden box office at or at 780-459-1542. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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