Even in the middle of a global pandemic, Carsen Gray manages to stay busy and positive. Gray is a singer, songwriter, and actress from Haida Gwaii, B.C., and recently collaborated on a book with her mother that showcases their community.
Gray also brought her son and daughter in the story, saying the title they have so far is “Twelve Months of the Year with Maddie and JoJo.”
“It just sort of goes from January all the way to December, just kind of showing all the different activities that my children love to do,” said Gray.
“We have people making a feature in the book that are a part of the community. Like, my Auntie Jenny, she does Haida dancing lessons and singing lessons with the kids. Just sort of bringing, keeping the culture alive and teaching our youth, right? And yeah, we’re also going to be incorporating some Haida words. So every month will be in Haida, as well, as a few other key words.”
Gray has also been doing music professionally since 2014, and says she got her start in Haida Gwaii with her mom, doing local shows around the community for different events and what not.
In 2017, Gray put out a full-length album and which got her a few awards from the Indigenous Music Awards and some recognition.
Since then, Gray has been putting out singles every year to “give fans content.” Most recently, she released a song called “Sah’ Laana” which in the Haida language means the creator, chief, or boss.
“I had planned to release it on April 12th in honor of my grandmother. That’s her birthday. And it just happened to be that the date also fell on Easter and just kind of the timing of COVID-19 and all that,” said Gray.
Afterwards, she was getting a lot of messages saying the song really brought them comfort and peace in a time of uncertainty, and even making some feel closer to God.
Living in Haida Gwaii during a pandemic has been good for Gray, and says they’ve been blessed because they have a lot of space in between people and not a lot of people there either.
She also feels like there have been improvements in her life, with just getting a better routine going on in her home and having the extra time to be creative.
Even though the pandemic was unexpected and gave improvements in Gray’s life, she says with everything going on she is taking it day by day, including her wedding which is supposed to take place in the fall.
“The bigger picture, it’s going to make everybody really appreciate the regular things in life,” said Gray.
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
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