This recording includes two Ko’jua songs, the first of which is known as Jukwa’lu’k Kwe’ji’ju’ow – Bring Your Little Sister. Lee Cremo plays it here to demonstrate what a Mi’kmaw song would sound like on the fiddle; however, Ko’jua is a vocal and dance genre.
Watch a video of Lee Cremo demonstrating the “real stepdance.”
Jukwa’lu’k Kwe’ji’ju’ow, 1977. Lee Cremo. T-883. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.
Lee Cremo was born December 30, 1938 at Barra Head, Richmond County, Cape Breton Island. Barra Head is a Mi’kmaq community that is known today as Potlotek. When he was four years old his family moved to Eskasoni and Lee lived there for most of his life.
His father, Simon Cremo, was an accomplished fiddler and Lee grew up listening to his father play the fiddle daily. While Lee’s first instrument was the guitar, he would often play his father’s fiddle in secret. At 15, his father suffered a stroke and soon after Lee officially picked up the fiddle and began his journey to becoming one of the greatest fiddlers of all time.
Lee recorded his first album, Champion Fiddler, in 1968 and went on to record many more over the years. He also appeared in two films, composed many of his own tunes, and shared the stage with other famous musicians, including Johnny Cash. Lee became known for his unique playing style and his great sense of humour.
He won as many as eighty awards throughout his career, including the Maritime Old Time Fiddling Championship, “Best Bow Arm in the World” at the World Fiddling Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, and “Canadian Champion” at the Alberta Tar Sands Competition. Lee performed at the opening of the Expo 67 and at the launch of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
He credited many fiddlers for providing him with technique and guidance, including his father Simon, fellow Mi’kmaw fiddler Wilfred Prosper, and Buddy MacMaster.
Lee Cremo died on October 10, 1999 at the age of 60.
Ko’jua – Jukwa’lu’k Kwe’ji’ju’ow
Bring your little sister
- Cape Breton’s Magazine: Lee Cremo Speaks
- Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk
- Beaton Institute: Ethnocultural Resources Inventory
- Micmac News (1965-1991)
- Mi’kmaq Association for Cultural Studies
- Mi’kmaq College Institute
- Mi’kmaq Resource Centre
- Native Dance: Mi’kmaq
- NSARM: Mi’kmaq Holdings Resource Guide
- Welta’q – “It Sounds Good”: Historic Recordings of the Mi’kmaq