Arts & CultureCampus & City

U of A alumna Kaeley Jade named Indigenous songwriter of the Year

Jade, an Edmonton-based multidisciplinary artist, was named Indigenous Songwriter of the Year at the 2024 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

At the 2024 Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA), University of Alberta alumna Kaeley Jade was named Indigenous Songwriter of the Year for her album Turpentine.

But, the Métis artist is not only a pop indie-folk singer and songwriter — she’s also an actress and artist. In fact, her path to music was always multidisciplinary. Jade found herself at a crossroads when she was applying to university, as she had to decide between seriously pursuing music or theatre.

In the end, Jade pursued a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in acting, graduating from the U of A in 2020. Throughout her degree, Jade took music-related classes as well, and her university experience ultimately provided her with versatile skills that she now uses as a performer. Jade always looks for opportunities to intertwine her different disciplines together, which is reflected in both her musical and theatre work.

Jade released her first EP, Years Ago, in 2020. Two years later, Jade released Turpentine. Between the release of these two projects, Jade found herself caught within the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, Jade accessed online music conferences, met new people, and accelerated her learning about the music industry. At the same time, she focused on doing theatre work.

“I got to learn more than I might have in a normal circumstance,” Jade recalled. “I was trying to figure out a good way to move forward.”

“It really means a lot to me to be recognized by my peers for my writing,” Jade says

Turpentine was largely inspired by both platonic and romantic relationships in Jade’s life. “As an artist, I’m very driven by the way that I relate to other people,” she explained.

The pop indie-folk album takes musical inspiration from artists such as Harry Styles, Fleetwood Mac, and Kings of Leon. However, Jade’s masterful lyrics and reclamation of the musical genre sets her apart from other artists. Her artistic experience extended to the artwork seen in the album cover as well, which she designed.

Currently, Jade has been writing songs for a new album, which she hopes to record soon. Additionally, Jade plans to tour this summer.

Jade was nominated for three awards at the 2024 CFMA. Alongside Indigenous Songwriter of the Year, she was nominated for Contemporary Singer of the Year and New Emerging Artist of the Year. Jade was not expecting to win any of the nominations, because “there’s so many incredible artists that are nominated for these awards.”

Jade said she feels like she was a singer first, and in a way, her songwriting has grown with her. In a touching moment, this sentiment was reflected in her winning Indigenous Songwriter of the Year.

“It really means a lot to me to be recognized by my peers for my writing,” she shared. “I’m so honoured.”

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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