"Learning the Haida language through Haida songs led to an interest in ceremonies, medicines, and other cultural knowledge. I learned that the songs come from the land, and are a reflection of the land. From this basis, I was inspired to become a lawyer to protect the land. All are connected."
Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson is a unique voice for indigenous cultures. She is a Haida musician, artist, and lawyer, well known for her work in aboriginal-environmental law and as a recognized keeper of traditions. Born and raised in Haida Gwaii, Terri-Lynn has dedicated herself to the continuation of Haida culture. The traditional Haida songs her centenarian great-grandmother sang have motivated and been a beacon throughout her life, leading her to help preserve a legacy of Haida music through the Haida Gwaii Singers Society.
Deep on the front lines of Indigenous Rights, her work strives to open new vistas to her audiences rooted in Indigenous world views, Haida language and laws, music and oral traditions, and branches out to explore their relevance to contemporary society.
Released in August 2017, Grizzly Bear Town is Terri-Lynn’s third album and is a collaboration with Bill Henderson and Claire Lawrence. It seeks to build bridges of understanding, respectfully blending ancient and contemporary knowledge and music.
Respecting the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the music propels the conversation about past and future, responsibility and legacy. The songs illustrate aspects of Haida culture, including supernatural beings such as Cedar Sister, Landslide Lady and Canoe Song, spirituality, and indigenous laws. The album strives to highlight the endangered Haida language and music from the Northwest Coast of Canada.
“Grizzly Bear Town” is best described as “cutting edge ancient.” Improvisatory techniques—common to both Jazz and potlatches—are used to explore the diverse perspectives in this album, cut live-off-the-floor and in the primordial, mystical islands of Haida Gwaii. Their joy and love of this shared creation shines through their compelling performances.
Her previous album ‘New Journeys’ garnered a ‘Best Female Artist’ Canadian Aboriginal Music Award (“CAMA”) and numerous nominations, and stayed on the National Aboriginal Music Countdown for almost 40 weeks. Her first album ‘Lalaxaaygans: Beautiful Sound’ received a ‘Best Female/Traditional Cultural Roots’ CAMA.
Born in Queen Charlotte. Grew up in Skidegate Haida Gwaii. Citizen of the Haida Nation
Received the Haida name “lalaxaaygans”, or “Beautiful Sound” from her maternal great-grandmother, centenarian and song custodian, Susan Williams
Began singing publicly at the age of 6. First started performing Haida songs at 13, co-founding a children’s dance group Skidegate Haida Dancers in 1978
1985 | Illustrated a children’s book “Crests of the Haida”
1990 | Graduated UBC Faculty of Computer Science
1993 | Worked as a summer student for the Haida Gwaii Museum, cataloguing and researching southern songs of the Haida Nation
1994 | Received the Haida name gid7ahl-gudsllaay, the name held by her maternal great-grandmother, Susan Williams
1995 | Graduated UBC Faculty of Law
1996 | Called to the BC Bar, and became founding Executive Director of EAGLE, a charity providing free legal advice to protect the land
Lawyer, General Counsel for the Haida Nation, with a focus on aboriginal-environmental law. She has represented the Haida Nation at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada in litigation to protect the old-growth forests of Haida Gwaii in the Haida Case
1996 | Married renowned Haida artist Robert Davidson
1996 | Member since 1996 of the Rainbow Creek Dancers: Haida dance group which performs traditional Haida dances and songs in Haida Gwaii and internationally
2000 - present | Member since 2000 of the Haida Gwaii Singers Society along with Reg Davidson, Robert Davidson, Guujaaw, and Marianne Jones. The group’s mission is to educate people about the rich musical traditions of the Haida
2002 | Solo Performance at The Spirit Concert, Chan Centre in Vancouver. The concert included The Bach Choir, The Vancouver Symphony, Karen Jamieson Dance Company, Rainbow Creek Dancers and Bruce Cockburn. The concert was filmed for and aired on CBC television’s Opening Night series
2008 | Winner: Keeper of Traditions Special Honour Award Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards
2008 | Release of the Haida Gwaii Singers box set "Haida Gwaii: Haida Gwaii Singers Anthology”including Terri-Lynn's solo CD “Lalaxaaygans: Beautiful Sound". The CD title is Terri-Lynn’s Haida name which means beautiful sound.
2009 | Release of the Haida Gwaii Singers box set "Songs of Haida Gwaii: Archival Anthology”. Terri-Lynn worked and volunteered for the Haida Gwaii Singers as Executive Producer, researcher, writer and fundraiser for these two collections of over 450 Haida songs.
2009 | Winner: Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards for the "Lalaxaaygans: Beautiful Sound album.”
2011 | Album “New Journeys” | Collaboration with composer and producer Bruce Ruddell featuring original compositions by Terri-Lynn and Robert Davidson, sung by Terri-Lynn in the Haida language. Remarkable for blending vocals with contemporary instrumentation
2011-2013 ‘NEW JOURNEYS’ AWARD NOMINATIONS
- 2011 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards | ‘Best Folk /Acoustic CD’, ‘Single of the Year’
- 2011 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards | ‘Best Female Artist’, ‘Best Folk/ Acoustic’ Album, ‘Best Songwriter’
- 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards | ‘Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year’, ‘World Solo Artist of the Year’
- 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards | ‘World Recording of the Year’
- 2013 Native American Music Awards | ‘Best Female Vocalist/Best Female Artist’, ‘Historical/Linguistic’ Recording
2011 | Winner | ‘Best Female Artist’ Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards
2011 | Performer at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards ceremony, Toronto, Ontario
2011 | Cited as one of the top 10 most Influential Indigenous Albums of 2011 by RPM Indigenous Music Culture
2012 Terri-Lynn featured on the cover of The Advocate magazine | Published by the Vancouver Bar Association, May 2012
2012 | Terri-Lynn featured on the cover of The Advocate magazine | Published by the Vancouver Bar Association, May 2012
2012 | Western Canadian Music Awards | Nominated World Recording of the Year
2012 | Featured Main Stage performer at Victoria BC’s Canada Day celebration
2012 | ‘ Have a Light Heart on Your New Journey’ reached No 2 on the National Aboriginal Music Countdown and was on this chart for almost 40 weeks
2012 | Featured in Turtle Island’s book ‘IN Tune’ to encourage reluctant readers, promote literacy and connect aboriginal youth with music industry careers
2012 | Donated "Have a Light Heart on Your New Journey” to a video ‘Garnet’s Journey’ about reconciliation in the aftermath of the Indian Residential School experience
2012 | Featured performer at Music BC Charitable Foundation Gala Fundraising Concert, where Terri-Lynn collaborated for the first time with Bill Henderson and Claire Lawrence
2013 | 'Today We Will Go On Our Own Strength' featured in Knowledge Network production 'Dwelling'