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Yellowknife singer heads south

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 17/06) - Kiera-Dawn Kolson is clearly excited; her thoughts are coming out one on top of the other, piling knee-high in the hallway.

She just got back from Winnipeg; she's being sent to Haiti; there was an e-mail; she's 20 years old; she's an R&B (Rhythm and Blues) singer... Wait, what was that second thing again?
NNSL Photo/graphic

Yellowknife singer Kiera-Dawn Kolson will be heading to Haiti next week, to participate in an international cultural festival. - Adam Johnson/NNSL photo

"I've been invited to Haiti for a festival," she says. "I'm one of 10 Canadian artists taking part."

A letter she hands me calls the event the Project Haiti YeleFest, an arts and cultural gathering in Jacmel, Haiti, involving 10,000 people from Haiti and beyond.

Artists and policymakers will gather on the Carribean island to explore models for sustainable development - a key issue in the conflict-torn nation.

"We're going to work alongside Haitian artists to create pieces that involve not only our art, but our culture," she says, clearly in a hurry to make other stops.

The week-long event, starting Nov. 24, will include a film festival, an artists' forum, a series of development seminars and a special treat: a concert from Haitian hip-hop star and former Fugee Wyclef Jean. He is one of YeleFest's founders, performing in Haiti for the first time in eight years.

"I'm totally looking forward to it," she says.

Kolson found out about the trip via e-mail last week, and has been running around frantically ever since, making arrangements and looking for sponsors.

"I didn't recognize the sender and I was going to delete it," she says with a laugh.

"I'm glad I didn't."

For Kolson, this event follows her trip to Winnipeg for the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards in Winnipeg, where she met up with members of Edmonton hip-hop group Red Nation, who she hopes will do some production work on her upcoming CD.

Red Nation ended up winning for Best Rap or Hip Hop Album.

She said the trip was also an opportunity to touch base with other people involved in aboriginal women's issues. Kolson is the northern director of the Sisters in Spirit Initiative, a national group that raises awareness about violence against women and human rights.

"Just because you come from a small place, doesn't mean your expectations have to be small for yourself," she says.

All of these happenings have left Kolson with a pretty tight schedule, not that she seems to mind.

"This year is going to be awesome for me," she says. "It's an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity."

"How often do you get an e-mail offering to send you to Haiti?"

Never, come to think of it.