Last year was a great year for Teagan Littlechief (Saulteaux and Cree) as an SCMA Aboriginal Artist of the Year Nominee and a Top Ten Bull’s Eye Emerging Indigenous Musical Talent competitor. All this while her song, Scar on My Heart, has been receiving considerable airplay on Canadian country music stations.
She first discovered the song written by songwriter David Joseph during Canadian Country Music Week in London, Ontario in 2016. Teagan Littlechief eventually selected Scar on My Heart due to it’s Faith Hill/Martina McBride vibe and emotionally-connected lyrics by David Joseph who had had written it for his infant daughter who was in the hospital.
When she recorded Scar on My Heart, Teagan Littlechief was facing her own sense of loss. She had lost her father Russell Standingready, and was thinking of the missing and murdered women in Canada.
Teagan Littlechief, who lives on the White Bear First Nations in Canada, says the song illustrates a universal pain all of us feel from one heartbreak to another, but allows for healing from those heartbreaks.
Her album, Rising Above, came out in 2008, and features songs about both hope and heartbreak such as Bring it On and Rise Above.
The 30-year-old took some time out of her busy life as a singer, mom and casino cashier to talk about her passion for singing and music.
How long have you been singing?
Oh, probably for the last 20-ish years. I didn’t really start competing until l I was about seven or eight and then bigger competitions didn’t start until I was 13 It started when I was in [preschool]. I was always singing the Little Mermaid song, Part of Your World. And my teacher talked to my mom, who then got me into music lessons. My mom was one of the strongest people who kept me going all these years.
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It was in 2001 at Voices of the North in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I was so scared. I’d never performed for such a big crowd. The very first time I walked off the stage after my very first live performance, I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want this to end … I can’t believe it’s over!’
Do you write music?
I co-wrote Hell Bent & Heaven Bound with Terry Fernihough. It was based on my ex-husband and the feelings of being stuck in something that wasn’t going anywhere. Since then, I really started to dabble in songwriting and now I carry a notebook with me wherever I go or I make sure I have enough battery on my phone so that I can record a voice clip. I have three phones right now with about 20 voice clips of random songs.
It could be even driving down the road and I’ll have the music turned up and then all of a sudden it’s like bang! I got something in my head and I turn the radio off and then my son will stay quiet while I’m writing, which is kind of awesome… He’ll say, “Oh that’s very nice, Mom.”
What inspires you the most?
My son. I want to give him a life without worries. I know he’s going to have worries, but it’s him that keeps me going. He’s my number one fan. I could take him to a live taping of a show and he’ll sit there quietly and wait until I’m done.
Why country music?
Well, it has not always been country. I was brought up in rock and roll, like Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, CCR, Rolling Stones. I didn’t know country until I was 13. I entered a competition and I was going to sing Sweet Child of Mine. When I got in, they said, “Can you sing something country?” I’m like, “Yeah!” It was Breathe by Faith Hill that I got into the competition with.
What advice would you have for young Native women who wants to pursue a career singing?
It takes hard work, it takes a lot of commitment, but never give up. There were times when, to be honest, I was suicidal because of being bullied and I was told, don’t let that interfere, because you have something. You have a gift. Don’t ruin your gift over someone smaller. So, get out there, keep going, keep going. It’s a tough road but, hard work gets you places rather than just sitting and not doing anything.
What are your hopes for the future?
I just jumped on this ride and I’m going wherever it takes me, and if it takes me to stardom well, I better pray to God that I’m ready for it.
Album: Rising Above iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hello-goodbye/id287266729