“Bass was the obvious necessity. And I wanted to feel like I was necessary. I think Bass is an instrument that has a very dignified role in communal music.” Mali Obomsawin tells me, with a laugh, about how they got started in music, accompanying their father to gigs around the Northeast. Mali Obomsawin is an activist, songwriter, composer, and bass player from New England. They are Abenaki from Odanak First Nation, born in New Hampshire though raised in central Maine and Odanak, near Quebec.

In October Obomsawin put out their first album as a composer and bandleader. The record, Sweet Tooth, issued on Out of Your Head Records, is a vibrant mixture of jazz, folk music, and more modern strains of the American canon. As a songwriter and bassist in indie Americana group Lula Wiles, Obomsawin had established a prosperous career in modern folk music, in 2022 Obomsawin was awarded the International Folk Associations Rising Tide Award in recognition of their vitality and importance to the international folk community. The multiplicity of the album, of its sounds and its scope, acts as a way to pay tribute to the dynamism of the Wabanaki people, on whose lands the whole of New England, up through to the southern Canadian Maritimes sits, and the ways in which they have had to meet a history of government policy content to leave them in the past.


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