Willie Thrasher is an Inuvialuit singer-songwriter from Aklavik, Northwest Territories. At five, Thrasher was taken from his family and sent to a series of residential schools where he was forbidden to practice his traditional culture. In the mid-1960s, he co-founded the Cordells, one of the first Inuit rock and roll bands. With Willie behind the drum kit, the group performed contemporary hits by the Rolling Stones and the Kinks at community venues across the north. One evening, a stranger recommended that the Cordells tap into their Aboriginal roots for inspiration instead of the charts. This prompted Thrasher to pick up a guitar and write original material about his life, family, region, and environment. In 1981, he released his debut album, Spirit Child, via the CBC. For the last 10 years, Willie has been based out of Nanaimo, B.C. and performing with his singing partner Linda Saddleback. His music was featured artist on Light in the Attic Records’ Grammy-nominated Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 compilation in 2014 while 2015 saw the re-release of Spirit Child.
Photo: Amanda Leigh Smith