Groovin' to Innu reggae at Festival du Bois

Singer blends First Nations, pop, folk and reggae music

When you hear Shauit’s reggae and pop-rock sounds, it’s easy to get into the Quebecois musician’s vibe. What’s not clear is what language he’s singing.

Shauit mixes Innu, French and English to bring attention to his words that are often are tinged with politics. “What I really want to do it show people my style of music, in my native language,”

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Shauit said in between a recording session last Friday. “For me, it’s important to keep it alive.”

Hailing from the northeastern Quebec region of Maliotenam, Shauit — the son of an Acadian father and Innu mother — said it’s not unusual for him to get the odd look when he’s performing.

Still, “people are amazed about what I can do with my language and they often tell me it fits very well with reggae.”

Raised as a francophone, Shauit didn’t grasp Innu until he was a teenager, wanting to connect with his heritage. He partnered with rapper Samian and, in 2016, dropped his debut EP as a solo artist; the following year, Shauit released his first full-length CD titled Apu Peikussiaku, which last year earned him Best Indigenous Language Album at the Indigenous Music Awards and Indigenous Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Next weekend, Shauit will descend on Coquitlam for the 30th annual Festival du Bois at Mackin Park, where he’ll perform in the Grand Chapiteau (Big Tent) on March 23 at 4:20 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (he also has an appearance at next door at Mackin House at 3 p.m. for a workshop).

Shauit welcomes the opportunity to share his tunes in B.C., a province he visits each year to play at festivals “and discover other artists who are also doing new things because there’s not a lot of room in the music industry for us.”

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