Art Moves performer spotlight: blues musician Murray Porter

Art Moves performer spotlight: blues musician Murray Porter

“Thrill is gone. The thrill is gone away. The thrill is gone, baby,” sang B.B. King in his 1969 rendition of The Thrill is Gone.

All these years, the thrill of singing the blues has not gone away for Murray Porter. He was introduced to the blues more than 40 years ago while growing up in southern Ontario.

“Blues has been my life ever since I was 14 years old,” says Murray. “I heard B.B. King sing ‘The Thrill is Gone’ on an AM radio late at night. I was hooked. I started to play the blues and I’ve been playing for over 40 years.”

Murray’s music career has taken him all over the world. This month, it brings him to transit.

He is this month’s performer for Art Moves, TransLink’s new music and performance residency series that’s bringing added vibrancy to the transit system through the performing arts.

The residency is timely as June marks National Indigenous History Month, a month to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Canada.

Murray describes himself as a proud Mohawk man from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in southern Ontario. He now lives on Squamish Nation unceded territory in North Vancouver. His new music weaves in many issues facing Indigenous People today.

What does National Indigenous History Month mean to you?

It’s a chance for Indigenous People to share our stories with the general population. It’s my chance to share our culture. I’m proud to be a First Nations man.

Are there events during this month that you find particularly meaningful?

The memorial at the Vancouver Art Gallery with the shoes representing the 215 children whose graves were uncovered last year is truly moving.

What has been the inspiration for your music?

I use the music as a chance to celebrate our Indigenous culture, including the trials and tribulations that our People have gone thru. Affirmation and education…affirming our right to be here and educating those who don’t understand this concept. My songs reflect my experience as an Indigenous Person, and I’ve written songs about the land and land claims, the water, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls, and Indian Residential Schools, and will continue to do so. But I also write and sing songs about love, plus some cheeky satirical songs as well. I always have a good time and feel so good when I’m playing music, especially in front of an audience.

Video Transcript

Hey everybody! My name is Murray Porter, I’ll play a little music for you. Have some fun! Here we go.

♪ Highway 16 ♪

Blues has been my life ever since I was 14 years old. I’ve been playing for 40 years now.

I’m a musician but I’m a First Nations first, musician second. So, all of those feelings I have as a First Nations [person] comes through in my music.

♪ When that falcon blows, I will be coming home. ♪

As an artist, I feel that it’s my duty to try and teach people. I sing some songs about some issues that affect Native people like homelessness, poverty, residential schools, [and] murdered and missing women. All of those topics come up in my music because that’s who I am.

[End of transcript]

A graphic with the text saying National Indigenous History Month