Cris Derksen, cellist

Cellist and composer Cris Derksen is a part of the Red Ride Tour (RedWorks)

Red Ride Tour, a collective of diverse aboriginal musicians, makes a stop in Winnipeg on May 23. Cellist and composer Cris Derksen, classical grunge rocker Kristi Lane Sinclair and special guest, Juno-awarding winning singer George Leach will perform at the Pony Corral.

"Now that George is here [for the prairie portion of the tour], the momentum is exactly where it needs to be," said Derksen.

Derksen calls herself a classically trained electro cellist. "Within that, it can go in vast directions," she said. "So really my genre is just my own influences. We call it genre-defying music because it's really hard to peg down into a certain box."

Derksen's influences are plentiful, arising firstly from her roots in northern Alberta. Her father was a Cree from the North Tall Cree Reserve and her mother came from nearby La Crete, an old colony Mennonite village.

"It influences my music entirely," she said of her unique background. "It forms my perception of the world, where I come from. So I think I use a lot of sounds from the north in my music to create the sounds that I imagine and I also use very heavily aboriginal influences of sound in my work, so they both are very intertwined and related."

She says she's also interested in the crossovers between traditional and contemporary, and classical and electronic musics.

Derksen's name is getting around in the music world. She was invited to write the theme music for CBC's popular series about aboriginal issues, 8th Fire. She's the go-to cellist for Kanye West when he's in her current home of Vancouver to perform, and she's had the chance to perform with Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, a highly creative collaboration of live improvisation.

But what she says is most exciting these days is having been invited to perform three tracks on Buffy Sainte Marie's upcoming album. The opportunity came along while working on a mentorship with Sainte Marie in which the senior artist shared her insights in music.

"It's blowing my mind!" she effused.

As for the current Red Ride Tour, Derksen is having a ball. "It's fun doing an all-aboriginal show because you have a certain friendship with your fellow aboriginals that you don't get to see all the time, so when you put us together in the same room, it's a really fun environment."

Red Ride Tour, with Cris Derkson, Kristi Lane Sinclair and George Leach, comes to the Pony Corral, Winnipeg on May 23. The tour continues with shows in Thunderbay, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Brooklyn, New York.