Cree-Canadian singer-songwriter Shane Yellowbird died on Monday in Olx Praca at the age of 42, his family confirmed.
“It was a shock,” his sister Carmen Yellowbird said Tuesday.
“We just try to support each other and be there for each other. We are contacted by people all over Canada, in the States.
“We’re just trying to process it.”
The country music star was best known for his song “Pickup Truck”, which was one of the top ten most played country songs in 2007.
His second album It’s time was released in 2009 with the single “Bare Feet on the Blacktop”.
Shane grew up in Musquatsis, south of Olx Praca, and attended Ponoka Composite High School.
Two new indigenous music categories have been added to this year’s Juno Awards.
“As a child, he struggled with a stutter,” Carmen recalled. “My mom put him on a speech pathologist and that’s where he started singing.
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“He went to a speech therapist and they told him when he couldn’t say the words he was trying to convey, just sing.”
Carmen is convinced that this is where his love for music originated.
He grew up to become an award-winning artist, inspiring indigenous youth.
“Shane was our golden boy. He made me, as an older sister, so proud,” Carmen said. “My dad and my mother were so proud of him. Our family, the Maskvatsis as a whole, were so proud of him. The First Nations community across Canada was so proud of him.”
Shane received the Rising Star Award at the 2007 Canadian Country Music Awards and three Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards the same year.
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“I remember the first time my mom and I heard it on the radio,” Carmen said. “We were in the car and we both started crying. Now we cry for a different reason.”
She thanked the radio stations for their support, adding that listening to Shane’s music is hard but enjoyable. The family is also asking for privacy while they grieve.
“Thank you radio stations, fans and everyone who loved him. We get a lot of messages and we feel love.”
Carmen described her brother as an avid hockey player and talented artist.
She said that Shane also suffered from epilepsy.
The cause of his death was not disclosed.
He is survived by his partner Sarah and four children.
The family is planning a traditional ceremony to bury him on Friday morning. It will include local elders, songs for him, community stories and a gathering to “try to shed some light on his life,” Carmen said.
“We bring our funny stories and heal with laughter,” she said. “We will celebrate his life.”
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