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‘Aboriginal Icon’ winner rocks on

PEPPER PIKE, Ohio – No one is more surprised about where his music has taken him in just two years than the Cree high school teacher from the Goodfish Lake First Nation in Alberta. After a hiatus from music, W.T. Goodspirit rekindled his love for music and soon after, entered the “Aboriginal Icon” singing competition.

Goodspirit was one of hundreds of First Nation, Inuit and Metis performers who auditioned for a shot at the title. He eased through the local and regional levels and was named one of seven finalists on “Aboriginal Icon,” a program that is modeled after the television show “Canadian Idol” and draws aboriginal contestants from across Canada. At the finals in the spring of 2005, Goodspirit sang Jack Green’s “Statue of a Fool” and Alabama’s “Mountain Music,” and the title of Aboriginal Icon was garnered.

“Before ‘Aboriginal Icon,’ I only sang cover songs. After I won, I started to write music and brought out my true capabilities that I did not know I had. I realized that recording my own music was a dream come true,” Goodfish explained.

His grand prize was a recording contract with Sunshine Records, the company that released his debut compact disc, “Give Me a Sign,” in June. “Give Me a Sign,” a unique collection of aboriginal country rock music, showcases Goodspirit’s strong baritone voice, which sounds like a cool blend of the best of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Whether singing a love song or an honor song, or about the harsh realities of reservation life, “Give Me a Sign” is an offering not to be missed.

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Shortly after the CD release, Goodspirit took his first-ever plane ride to perform at the Six Nations Kahenstaton Benefit Concert in support of the Six Nations’ land reclamation issues. He was featured alongside Native American Music Award winners Joseph Fire Crow and Keith Secola, as well as Six Nations’ own Derek Miller.

In the last weekend of November, Goodspirit flew to Toronto for the 8th Annual Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, where “Give Me a Sign” was a finalist for Best Country Album. While his CD was not chosen for the award, Goodspirit was still treated like a celebrity: he watched the show from a front-row seat and performed throughout the weekend.

Goodspirit said he was “very honored to be a part of these awards and proud to represent the Cree First Nation’s people” at the awards.

Goodspirit is father to three daughters and is a full-time Cree language and social studies teacher in his home community, in addition to his musical pursuits. He continues to reside on the Goodfish Lake First Nation.