By Alleah Boisvert
D’orjay the Singing Shaman is a local country singer and practicing shaman who grew up in rural Alberta.
In November 2020, she released an album called “A New Kind of Outlaw”. The title track speaks to her experience as a queer black woman in the country music industry.
“The songs are common commentary on what it is like to be who I am and operating this base of music as a black, queer, fat woman and also just giving a bit of a history lesson and being cheeky because it’s almost certain that an outlaw in country music is usually a white man drinking beer, and really, those are who are uplifted in this genre of music,” said D’orjay.
The Singing Shaman mentioned that white men make up over 75 per cent of radio-aired country music artists, while black women make up less than 1 per cent, a statistic she found through research conducted by Dr. Jada Watson.
At the beginning of February, white country artist Morgan Wallen’s album sales were uplifted by fans after a video of him was released using a racial slur.
“So, who really is the outlaw? Because they’re not being outlawed from much, they’re actually profiting and benefiting. I’m like, well I think I’m an outlaw. I think it’s more badass that I’m doing this and putting myself out there in this space and claiming it for myself. I think that’s outlaw shit,” said D’orjay.
The Singing Shaman says that it is important to understand that country music goes beyond the perspective of straight white men, and seeing other artists represented in the genre helps people feel more connected to it.
“I would love if you haven’t in general been a fan of country music that you might give my musical perspective on country a chance and maybe I can convince you that it’s worth exploring out of what you understand to be country music via the mainstream. There are incredible musicians out there making country music who are of all races, but I want to highlight BIPOC making innovative country music and traditional country music. There are LGBTQ2S+ artists out there making incredible music too, there’s a great [online directory] called Country Queer,” said D’orjay.
The Singing Shaman says that the best way to support artists like her are through interacting with them on social media and buying music through platforms like Bandcamp rather than using streaming services.
“There’s actually some really cool and exciting things happening in this genre of music that I think would appeal to a lot of people if they did a little digging,” said D’orjay.