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Zach Willier, bluegrass fiddler


Zach Willier is on a musical journey that will take him to places that are far away but still connected to his roots. This Alberta teen will soon head to the southern US to study fiddle and bluegrass music.

Originally from Sucker Creek First Nation near Lesser Slave Lake, Zach moved to Edmonton in 2012. He was a student at Prince Charles School, which has an Indigenous focus—and a renowned children’s Métis fiddling group. Zach started playing with the group when he was nine. “Playing with the Prince Charles Fiddlers helped me realize how much I love to perform,” he says.

After elementary school, he took online lessons from Patti Kusturok, a renowned fiddler from Winnipeg. “That did wonders for me. I’ve grown with every experience and every teacher I’ve had.”

Now he’s on his way to East Tennessee State University, to begin a degree in Bluegrass and Country Music. A visit to the university’s campus in Johnson City inspired him. “After some auditions and classes, it just clicked for me. I saw myself in that program. It will connect me with the community and the industry. I can see it on the horizon now. I’m going to be an entertainer.”

Before he leaves to start university, Zach is looking forward to a few family-friendly gigs at the Edmonton Public Library. “I love doing programs on the tradition and history of Métis fiddle music. It’s important to keep the culture alive. I want to teach people what I grew up with. I went to lots of dances, and I heard this music in the car on road trips. It’s a part of me. I feel honoured to share that.”

Zach is clear about what music means to him. “Performing brings me joy. I love to play live and bring back old country style tunes and dancing. I have a lot of fun and I hope other people enjoy it, too.”

Hear Zach Willier, Métis fiddler, on Sunday, August 13 at the Sprucewood Branch of EPL at 11am, and at the Highlands Branch at 2pm.