William Prince’s "Gospel First Nation" Interrogates Faith + Family

William Prince

William Prince - the "king of Canadian country music" (Paste) fresh off the release of his "beautiful" (NPR Music) album Reliever earlier this year - shares his new project Gospel First Nation (Glassnote)Throughout the album, Prince tells us his story through the music of his childhood, songs of faith, struggle, and grace; songs he learned and sang with his father in that chapel named for his great grandfathers, all preachers. The result is a brilliant, empathetic collection of spiritual country music that interrogates the complicated relationship between Prince's religion and life in Peguis First Nation.

As No Depression explains, "Prince reconciles his Indigenous roots and a Christian upbringing with the social history of how that same faith has been used to subjugate and extinguish Native identity." Listen to Gospel First Nation here:

Listen to lead single "Gospel First Nation" here:

Prince sat down with American Songwriter for an in-depth conversation about how he "puts indigenous communities front and center on Gospel First Nation," read that here:

Says William Prince about Gospel First Nation:

My musical aspirations began with accompanying my dad on guitar as he preached and sang throughout different First Nations communities in Northern Manitoba. First Nations are the predominant Indigenous peoples in Canada south of the Arctic Circle. The first inhabitants of Canada.

These are country gospel songs as found in places like Peguis First Nation, Fisher River Cree Nation, Jackhead, Fisher Bay, Little Saskatchewan, Fairford, Thompson, and the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba. Reserves and communities with primarily First Nations residents. Places my dad would bring our family sharing his testimony and song. All of these places are Gospel First Nation.

With regard to First Nations communities, gospel music and Christianity are stigmatic as a tool of colonization and assimilation. The practice of Christianity was enforced to "civilize" the Indigenous inhabitants of Canada. As a young person, I never fully understood why the divide between cultural and Christian First Nations people existed. In actuality, the very singing of these songs and belief in a Lord and Saviour is the success of a plan to extinguish Indian identity. This album is an amalgamation of two realms.

I owe a lot to these songs. This album is not a step backwards, but an expansion of who I am as a human being and artist.

I am a resident of Gospel First Nation.

Earlier this year, William Prince appeared on CBS Saturday Morning, marking the rising artist's U.S. television debut. Watch his passionate performance of "The Spark":


Prince's JUNO Award winning debut Earthly Days, released in 2015 and subsequently reissued by Glassnote Records and Six Shooter Records (Canada), introduced the songwriter's poignant philosophy and rich baritone to the world. Prince made his breakout with the song "Breathless," which found audiences worldwide and reached the B List at BBC's Radio 2. Reliever, Prince's followup LP released early in 2020, saw Prince convene with producers Scott Nolan in Winnipeg and Dave Cobb in Nashville. Recent accolades include the Polaris Music Prize Long List, SOCAN Songwriting Prize ("The Spark") and the German Record Critics' Award for Album of the Year.

Gospel First Nation Tracklist

Gospel First Nation

Higher Power

When He Cometh

All His Children

When Jesus Needs an Angel

Just a Closer Walk with Thee (traditional)

Send the Light

Does Jesus Care?

This One I Know

Love Don't Ever Say Goodbye

Gospel First Nation Credits

Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by: Jamie Sitar

Recorded at: The Song Shop

Mixed and recorded at: Outta Town Sound


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