"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 has made it her life’s work and passion to perpetuate the Haida songs of her culture. Born and raised in Haida Gwaii off the west coast of Canada, Terri-Lynn has been a promoter of Haida music since the age of 13. For her work, which has spanned almost 40 years and has helped bring renewal to Haida songs, she received a ‘Keeper of Traditions’ Canadian Aboriginal Music Award in 2008.
In August 2017, Terri-Lynn released her third album "Grizzly Bear Town” with guitarist Bill Henderson and saxophonist Claire Lawrence of acclaimed band Chilliwack. The new songs illustrate Haida stories about land, resource stewardship and spirituality. Launched to critical acclaim, the new album beautifully illustrates the trio’s ongoing commitment to preserving and promoting precepts of harmony and conservation.
Her first traditional album: ‘Lalaxaaygans: Beautiful Sound’, and her second album, ‘New Journeys’ received multiple awards and nominations, including Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots at the 2009 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA), a ‘Best Female Artist’ at the 2011 CAMA, and was cited as one of the top 10 Most Influential Indigenous Albums of 2011 by RPM Indigenous Music Culture. In 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.
Terri-Lynn founded the Haida Gwaii Singers Society with other veteran Haida singers including her husband, artist Robert Davidson in 2000. The two box set collections, ‘Songs of Haida Gwaii: Haida Gwaii Singers Anthology’ (contemporary recordings) and ‘Songs of Haida Gwaii: Archival Anthology’ are now part of museum and school collections and preserve songs that might otherwise have been lost.
One of the CD’s from the Contemporary box set featuring Terri-Lynn as a solo singer: ‘Lalaxaaygans: Beautiful Sound’, received the Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots award at the 2009 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA).
Terri-Lynn is also a well-known lawyer representing the Haida Nation in the area of aboriginal-environmental law, and is a Principal Lawyer at White Raven Law Corporation.
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'