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First Words: Adrian Sutherland speaks Cree

In this episode, Adrian Sutherland of the band Midnight Shine shares the challenge of translating Neil Young lyrics into Cree. He'll also teach you how to say sing me a song in his language.
Adrian Sutherland is the lead singer of Midnight Shine. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

First Words is a weekly podcast focused on Indigenous languages. Each week, we welcome a new guest into the hosting chair to teach us three words in their language. 

In this episode, Adrian Sutherland of the band Midnight Shine shares the challenge of translating Neil Young lyrics into Cree. He'll also teach you how to say sing me a song in his language. 5:40

Adrian Sutherland, from Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, is the frontman of the band, Midnight Shine. 

He remembered hearing Cree as a young child, picking up words from grandparents, alongside his four sisters and two brothers. 

Midnight Shine recently released a cover of Neil Young's Heart of Gold. Sutherland recalled when the band was sitting in the studio working on the arrangement, producer John-Angus MacDonald suggested they try translating a verse into Cree.

Overall, Sutherland said the translation went smoothly.

"There was one line that I had trouble with, it was the translation of heart of gold. I had difficulty with that one because there were no words that I knew to describe gold."

Sutherland said the choices were a term for "money rock" or slightly adjusting the meaning to reflect searching for something or someone that's good-hearted — which is what he went with.