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Song Warriors of the North bring their powerhouse style to Sidney

A gritty toughness, developed in the North, defines their music 

Take three talented female singers and songwriters and put them together on stage and the odds are that you’ll have a good show.  

Take three incredibly talented women from the North of BC and let them share their music and passion, and the results will knock your socks off. 

That’s exactly what’s coming this summer as Song Warriors of the North begin their collaboration at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney on July 11. 

Kym Gouchie, Rachelle van Zanten, Naomi Kavka are the talented performers in question and they’re coming together to combine their musical chops in their first collaborative performance. 

Gouchie, the youngest of the trio, is a songwriter with a degree in classical music from Memorial University where she studied the cello. But her true love has always been roots and folk and with her recent album, Then and Now she’s moved into indie rock where her background and incredible skills shine through. 

Rachelle van Zanten is a roots-rock-blues performer who started her career as a 17-year-old and has been on the road, honing her skills, for the past 30 years. After first forming a band called Painting Daisies, which toured all over the world, van Zanten decided to move to a solo career in 2004. Her punishing slide guitar has her listed as “one of Canada’s best slide guitarists” by musician Randy Bachman and garnered her the fitting description of “Lucinda Williams meets Led Zepplin.” 

Rachelle van Zanten. Courtesy Musicfest

Finally, Kym Gouchie, the eldest of the trio, has had a long musical career informed by her ancestral roots in the Lheidli T’enneh, Cree and Secwépemc Nations. Her music has brought awareness to First Nations and women’s issues, and she has used her music and storytelling to promote reconciliation and community building. 

With her powerful voice, traditional hand drum, acoustic guitar and authentic Indigenous folk and country style, she’s made a name for herself as an unrivalled entertainer and storyteller. 

And while it's true that these are all three incredibly talented musicians, there is also a common thread that ties the three women together. 

“We’re all inspired by the same thing,” said van Zanten. “The people of the North are a different breed. We’re attuned to seasonal changes and the long harsh winters. You live in the North and you either do well, or you leave.” 

Kavka agrees saying that there’s a real toughness that develops in that part of the world.  

“Weve all been honed by the grit of living up there,” said Kavka. “I’ve written a lot about it and, even today, as I process events in my life, a lot of experiences don’t make sense to me until I can get back to the bush and process what’s happened.” 

“All of our music is informed by the land. There’s a northern way of living where we’re all connected to the land,” said Gouchie. 

She went on to say that the three women are also tied together in a more disturbing way. 

“We all live along the Highway of Tears, and that’s something that has served to connect us in a way that everyone in the North understands.”  

That highway is a 719-kilometre corridor of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert in B.C. It’s become infamous as the location of scores of crimes against women. 

Each trio member has had prior experience playing and performing with one another over the years but they’re all looking forward to their combined performances in what they hope will become a concert series. 

Following their show in Sidney, they’ll be heading to the Vancouver Island Folk Festival with the possibility of further bookings to follow. Gouchie and Kavka will also be appearing at the Vancouver Folk Festival. (Van Zanten will be heading back to her ranch for a bit.) 

“I think that there’s a way that musicians communicate and support each other while performing. I’m looking forward to doing these shows. These are such power-house singers, I just know it’ll be amazing.” 

For more information and tickets for Song Warriors of the North, visit