Digging Roots inspired by friends, mentors and ceremony songs

Digging Roots is roots, rock, soul-folk and blues. ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta formed the band in 2004 after falling in love at first sight 20 years ago.
ShoShona Kish (left) and Raven Kanatakta of Digging Roots. (Digging Roots/Facebook)

[Originally broadcast on July 31, 2016]

Digging Roots is a band that can best be described as roots, rock, soul-folk and blues.

ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta formed the band in 2004, and released their first album, Seeds, in 2006. They followed with We Are in 2009, which featured collaborations with Tanya Tagaq, DJ Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red and Kinnie Starr — who also produced the album. Their third effort, For the Light, was released in 2014.

They shared some favourite music picks with Unreserved, a list full of friends, mentors and ceremony.

Kinnie Starr
Sun Again

"I would say she was hugely influential in my early writing and my early journey into music which ends up colouring everything. I met her at Planet Indigenous and I was starstruck and that was the beginning of a friendship that evolved over many years. I just think she's a force of nature." - ShoShona Kish

Kinnie Starr's music, blends hip hop and alternative rock and has been described as "hip hop aggro groove". (Robin Gartner)

Willie Dunn
I Pity the Country

"He was my mentor musically and he just had so many great words and … he just had a presence. Even if it was just him and an acoustic guitar or it was him and a band, it didn't matter. The power of his music just carried the full force to the other side. People would be crying sometimes when he played his songs." - Raven Kanatakta

Willie Dunn was of Mi'kmaq and Scottish/Irish heritage. Dunn often highlighted Indigenous issues in his work including the iconic The Ballad of Crowfoot. (CBC)

Buffy Sainte-Marie 
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

"Of course Buffy is a living legend and it's songs like this that make it so. She is such an important voice from our community. She is an inspiration of so many levels, her activism, her work for young people and of course her songwriting. It's my aspiration to write songs and make music that speaks truth, is as alive and speaks directly to the spirit the way her music does. We've been lucky to have met her and played several festivals together. One day I hope to work with her. That would be amazing." - ShoShona Kish

Buffy Sainte-Marie is on everyone's playlist including Digging Roots who name her as one of their biggest inspirations. (Trevor Brady)

Kobo Town
Beautiful Soul

"This our favourite band from Canada. Drew is our favourite songwriter and is originally from Trinidad. He sings about his land and people.  A very fine human being with a wonderful and important artist. Drew has a constant deep groove that emanates outward from his musical being. We've had many Kobo Town kitchen dance parties with our kids who are also huge fans." - Raven Kanatakta

Kobo Town is a Canadian Caribbean music group, led by Trinidadian Canadian singer and songwriter Drew Gonsalves. (Provided)

Ulali with Robbie Roberston
​Mahk Jchi (Heartbeat Drum Song)

"I had a mixed tape with several Pura Fe songs on it when I was in high school. I don't even know where it came from but I had it on repeat for a long time. She was and is my favourite singer in the whole world. Pura Fe just kills this song. We saw Ulali perform it live about 20 years ago and they were like a rock band at full throttle. So much female power coming from the stage, I was mesmerized! This recording is so beautiful and it makes me feel like burning sweetgrass is filling my living room. It's a ceremony." - Raven Kanatakta

Ulali is an a capella group made up of members: Pura Fe', Jennifer Kreisberg, Charly Lowry, Layla Rose Locklear (Facebook)