So many kids wish for a guitar or a keyboard for Christmas as they dream of becoming a rock star. Keith Whiteduck’s world changed when at age 14 he received a $100 guitar ordered from the Sears catalogue. This gift inspired him to pursue a career as a musician. By 16, he began song writing. Now 29, some of those early songs can be heard on his first official album, Enter Keith Whiteduck set to be released in November 2019.
Through his music, Whiteduck shares the reality and challenges that exist living on Kitigan Zibi Anishinabe (KZA) reserve, near Maniwaki Quebec, and in most Indigenous communities in Canada. One track, Anishinabe relates to experiences in residential schools, attempts to eliminate his Algonquin culture and language and the lack of clean drinking water. The track, Nibí, the Algonquin word for water, speaks about the water crisis in KZA where almost half of the homes must use bottled water due to the uranium and radium that occurs naturally in the bedrock below KZA land.
Keith does not present these issues in an angry way. Instead, he says he is just “telling it like it is” joining other voices from his community, including Sunshine Tenasco who authored a new children’s book, Nibi’s Water Song, which reflects what the water crisis means to children living in Indigenous communities.
While studying music at Queen’s University in 2012, Whiteduck broadened his musical taste to include classical composers such as Chopin and Mozart. The album’s title track, Enter Keith Whiteduck, is a classical piano solo inspired by his newfound love of that musical genre. Additionally, his debut album features folk, rock, country, blues, and funk.
“I’m very glad about how the recording turned out. It won’t be what people expect.”
While at Queen’s, Keith made a connection with Weber Brothers Productions which led to him opening at one of their shows in the Ottawa area. Weber Brothers have produced for performers such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Ronnie Hawkins out of their recording studio in Peterborough, Ontario. Keith also started getting gigs such as performing background music at conferences and his earlier self-produced recordings are featured on the KZA radio station CKWE 103.9.
Whiteduck’s path crossed with CEDEC when he was enrolled in a Small Business Development Course, organized by the KZA Band Council and CEGEP Heritage College. In school by day, and promoting music culture through a music jam club at Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan school by night, Whiteduck lived and breathed music. But to be successful, he knew he needed to create a business plan to make his goals a reality.
With $9,000 in savings, he relocated to Peterborough to work with Weber Brothers and record his album. This included hiring musicians, including Lyle Odjick, another member of KZA community.
Whiteduck recently submitted his business plan to KZA Band Council’s Community Economic Development Office (CEDO) and received a loan of almost $12,000 to plan his debut tour to promote the album.
Stay tuned as we follow Keith Whiteduck’s entrepreneurial venture. Still to come, the launch of his official website and first official album, Enter Keith Whiteduck.