Alta.'s Celeigh Cardinal covers The Tragically Hip's 'Ahead By A Century'
EDMONTON -- Métis singer-songwriter Celeigh Cardinal says her cover of The Tragically Hip's most successful single in Canada is a shining light mid-pandemic and a celebration of the band's contribution to Indigenous communities.
"It was really inspiring to play music again, to be collaborating, to be working on this song, and also the lyrics of the song, specifically the lyric, 'No dress rehearsal, this is our life,'" Cardinal told CTV News Edmonton on Thursday.
"During the pandemic, I was going through a lot of depression, some grief because I lost a loved one last summer. So just having to sing these words over and over again almost became like a mantra to me. It was like yeah, you need to live, you need to really live. This is the only chance you've got."
Celeigh Cardinal's version of "Ahead By A Century" was released April 13.
The 2020 JUNO winner shot her part of the music video from her home in Edmonton, as did her collaborators, including Ontario's Christine Bougie and Josh Van Tassel.
The video is filled with clips filmed by other Canadians and Indigenous people.
"I wanted to highlight my community, and over the last year, my community has been almost completely online. I wanted to show people the joy that I've been receiving through social media and through the internet or through Facetime videos and just how powerful it can be," Cardinal commented.
"I also really wanted to highlight all kinds of love... two-spirit love, queer love, I wanted to show non-relationship love. I mean, I'm single and I'm doing just fine. I have this beautiful dog," she laughed.
The opportunity to release the cover -- Cardinal's first single in a couple of years -- came after she sang part of "Ahead By A Century" in a Scotiabank commercial. The song's use in the ad received mixed reviews from devoted Hip fans.
"I knew it was going to get attention," Cardinal said, explaining the reaction contributed to her nerves ahead of releasing the cover.
But, she added, "it was a catalyst. It was an important step for me to take and I'm glad I did it. I'm kind of coming out of the cloud and starting to feel more and more inspired."
The song – released as the lead single on The Tragically Hip's fifth studio album – was the band's most successful single in Canada, and was both the last song played at their final concert in 2016 and covered by Tori Amos two weeks after lead singer Gord Downie's death.
Cardinal won Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year at the 2020 JUNO Awards for her album Stories From A Downtown Apartment.