Canada Reads

How Canada Reads panellist Jully Black is preparing for the debates

The singer and philanthropist will be defending The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline on CBC’s battle of the books.
Jully Black is defending The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. (CBC)

"Canada's queen of R&B" Jully Black will be putting her voice to work in a different way when she takes a seat at the Canada Reads table. The singer is defending Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thieves, a YA novel about a group of Indigenous people hunted for their bone marrow, which is believed to restore the lost ability to dream. 

The debates, which will be hosted by Ali Hassan, take place March 26-29, 2018.

Black discussed how she was preparing for the battle of the books on-stage with Gill Deacon on Jan. 30, 2018.

Reading outside her comfort zone

"I love reading, but I read the same things. I realize that it's no different than eating the same things or listening to the same music. The Marrow Thieves wouldn't be a book I would normally choose. But I want to inspire my community. Let's start reading other things. In Canada, we speak about diversity, but let's live it now. Let's support our authors. I feel a parallel as an artist, a musician, in this country. If we can fan each other's flame, why not?"

Making it personal

"My mom passed away two months ago and I was given this book during that time. Reading The Marrow Thieves helped me with my grief — reading the stories of perseverance and hope and love, reading the wisdom of a 15-year-old, reading the wisdom of a 70-year-old. This might be my new Bible! I learned a lot about how to handle adversity. There's so much beauty in this book." 

Taking action

"The Marrow Thieves inspired me to read more and to use my platform, however I can, to get to know Indigenous people. We need to recognise how powerful our words and our thoughts actually are." 

Jully Black's comments have been edited and condensed.

The Canada Reads 2018 contenders:

Reading the stories of perseverance and hope and love