While Vancouver artists fared better than in past years, judging panels overlooked several outstanding local musicians.
However, one East Vancouver artist who received a nomination is composer and arranger Ruby Singh. A master of soundscapes, he’s one of five finalists for global music album of the year for Vox.Infold.
While working at the Georgia Straight last year, I was fortunate to interview Singh prior to the presentation of Vox.Infold at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. The entire album was delivered in an installation at Lobe Studio in advance of its release.
Vox.Infold actually premiered at the 2021 Indian Summer Festival. Singh has also been featured at the South Asian Arts Society’s Monsoon Festival.
Singh repeatedly emphasized to me that this was a team project. He created it with contributions from Dawn Pemberton, Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Ayalik of PIQSIQ, Russell Wallace, Tiffany Moses, and Shamik Bilgi.
In that interview, I was struck by what Singh had to say about the importance of collaboration. He felt that it’s passé in the 21st century to speak of the power of individual genius.
“I think that’s such a tragedy of a way of thinking,” Singh told me. “It’s an interdependent community that lifts voices, that raises voices, that gathers around and lifts people.”
A resilient Juno nominee
What also impressed me was Singh’s resilience and adaptability. His mother died when he was just five years old, so his dad’s sisters had to come over from India to help raise him and his three brothers.
In subsequent years, Singh’s family moved several times. This meant that he had attended 13 schools by the time he graduated in Abbotsford.
The title of his album refers to the human voice and how human beings are constantly folding into one another. That interconnectedness is also a key pillar of Sikhi. And Singh was inspired by this concept of oneness while working on this project.
“To me, the idea of the individual is a cognitive dissonance,” he said.
Singh is living proof that it takes a village to raise a child. And sometimes, that child goes on to achieve remarkable things—in partnership and with the help of others.
Listen to “Nakshatra” from Vox.Infold.
Ruby Singh & the Future Ancestors will perform in the Studio Theatre at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts on April 14. For tickets, visit the Shadbolt Centre website. Follow Pancouver editor Charlie Smith on Twitter @charliesmithvcr. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.