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Guitarist uses music to bring artists together

Calvin Mulder first discovered his passion for music at a young age and continued his journey by keeping music as the “backdrop” to his life. Mulder, a first-year student at Mohawk College, is the guitarist in the upcoming Musical Sharing: An Indigenous Artists and Mohawk College Student Cultural Engagement and Exchange Initiative.

Mulder ina. black hat hold his black and white guitar in front of a graffiti wall.
Mulder always knew he was going to pursue music growing up and saw it as something that went everywhere with him his whole life. (Photo Credit: Hailey Rodgerson)

The project aims to give students a multi-perspective understanding of cultural meanings and values through intercultural engagement and exchange, bringing together past generations with the next generation of people who are going to shape the world.

Initiative coordinator Bob Shields says he wants people to be inspired to learn more about Indigenous cultures.

“It’s okay to be ignorant when you are unaware of the truth,” Shields said. “But once you start learning, you’ve made a commitment to keep learning, because with learning comes responsibility, right? Especially when it comes to socio-relational things. I believe a relational justice begins with demonstrating compassion to others, to learn about them and to act in a positive way on what we learn.”

Mulder’s role requires meeting with the Indigenous artists, Rick McLean and the Six Nations Women Singers, to bring in songs and perform an ensemble together. Mulder describes his musical ideas as ‘anything goes’ and intends to play some jazz tunes with the ensemble, as well as working on the framework of what they’re going to do musically.

Mulder’s upbringing with music was anything but ordinary. He says he grew up listening to Jack Johnson, a soft rock musician who Mulder’s father enjoyed.

“It was the first music I was ever really into when I was really young, along with the soundtrack to the movie Cars,” Mulder said. “I love that music and it inspired me because it was all I had been exposed to at the time.”

Mulder credits the record Ocean Eyes by Owl City for setting the foundation for everything he does now. Mulder describes the record as a great work of art lyrically and poetically, and says he hopes someday to make something as powerful as that record was for him.

The ensemble is not only highlighting Indigenous artists and their community, but hopes to inspire others to learn more about truth and reconciliation.

A person holding and playing a guitar.
Mulder has an important role as the guitarist in the upcoming ensemble with Indigenous artists.

“This is a much more meaningful thing because it’s not just like ‘Tell us about the worst thing that ever happened to you,’” Mulder said. “It’s like, ‘Let’s just play music together and let the neurochemistry that we don’t understand yet that somehow creates really interesting bonds between different individuals, let that do the healing and the talking and that magic’. I think that’s what makes this initiative really special with regards to reconciliation.”

Mulder says he hopes to continue his studies at Mohawk College while also teaching music to other musicians as well as becoming a lead engineer at a recording studio.

The best way to keep up with Mulder’s musical endeavours is through his Instagram @Cal_Mulder and keeping an eye out for the ensemble when it performs in April.


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