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  • Writer's pictureStevie Connor

Plains Cree and Coast Salish Singer-Songwriter Tia Wood Releases Debut Single 'Dirt Roads'

Tia Wood

Plains Cree and Coast Salish singer-songwriter Tia Wood releases her highly anticipated debut record “Dirt Roads” on Sony Music Entertainment Canada.


Tia was born and raised in Saddle Lake Cree Nation, a community of about 6000 people in Treaty 6 territory, a roughly two-hour drive east of the Alberta capital of Edmonton, and her family carries a rich musical and cultural heritage. Her father, Earl Wood, co-founded and was a member of the legendary JUNO Award-winning and Grammy-nominated powwow drum group Northern Cree; her mother, Cynthia Jim, was in an all-women drum group; and her sister, Fawn Wood, is also a JUNO Award-winning singer. A seasoned entertainer in her own right, Tia has amassed an audience of over three million followers across Instagram and TikTok, creating and sharing Indigenized sounds and content that is by turns hilarious and poignant. 


In 2020, Tia followed her wanderlust and set out for Los Angeles, turning a two-week stay into a semi-permanent move. The result is “Dirt Roads,” a song both about the thrill of “sunny days and happy faces in the land where dreams are made,” and also about feeling displaced so far from home. “Should I take out my braids or leave them in? They look at me like I’m a Martian,” Wood sings stirringly, invoking imagery and emotions relatable for anyone who’s left home for a new beginning in the city, especially Indigenous youth, as Tia grappled with the loss of access to her culture and traditions while in LA. 


But it’s the song’s refrain that echoes a comforting familiarity: “Dirt roads lead me back home.” The song is at once a love letter to Saddle Lake and her people, and a heartfelt reminder for so many others who feel the pull of family and home while following dreams in the big city. 

“It’s about leaving home and kind of stepping out into a new world,” says Tia. “Because when I used to live on the rez, I feel like the reason why I left is because I wanted to go see the world and figure out who I was. So that’s kind of the theme of it all. It’s just kind of being a young adult and going through young adult things.” The track, co-written and produced by Cameron (Cambo) Bartolini (Doja Cat, Walker Hayes), features Tia’s soulful voice and lush production and sets the stage for the stirring music video, also out today.

In the video, Tia returns to Saddle Lake, and is surrounded by family and loved ones, firmly rooted in the culture and community on the rez. Directed by Yana Malik, viewers are immersed in Tia’s home, and those “Dirt Roads” she longed for when she was far away. Beautiful, soaring shots of Indian Horse Relay racing; her mother braiding her hair; driving with her sister and friend; eating and living and loving together. The video is intimate and grand and up to the task of matching Tia’s songwriting and vocals – which also pull off the difficult trick of feeling both larger-than-life and quietly revealing. 


Born in Saddle Lake Cree Nation in central Alberta, a community of about 6000 people in Treaty 6 territory, Tia’s musical journey began at home. Her first experiences on stage were performing with her family, singing traditional music at powwows, schools, and community events. 

Even though she calls her younger self “the shyest kid” among her other siblings, Tia says those early performances and musical teachings from her family were hugely formative, and led her on to the path she continues to follow today, proudly celebrating and sharing the songs and dances of her people.

“I just liked being able to sing in front of people with my family especially,” she says. “It was really nice to bond in that way.”

But becoming a solo artist one day was always in the back of her mind. As a teen, she gravitated to all kinds of singers, from musical legends like Etta James and Hank Williams to more contemporary stars like Amy Winehouse, Leon Bridges, Jesse Reyez, and SZA. In her 20s, Tia developed a massive social following as a creator, and many of her videos introducing Indigenous sounds to a mainstream audience have gone viral and brought her widespread acclaim.

Those influences and experiences, along with the music of her Indigenous nations, have provided the foundation for her debut, which is rich in style, genre, and spirit. Threading everything together is Tia’s smooth and stunning vocals, creating a vibrant tapestry of modern music that she feels is strengthened and enriched by her Indigenous background and luxe R&B production.

“I feel like I dip into a lot of different things,” she says, “but as of right now, it’s more like R&B, and since I grew up right along with traditional music, I kind of try to add that in when it calls to do so.”

Her debut songs are as eclectic and rich as the young adult experience. The instrumentation under her sonically rich vocals ranges from classic sounds like piano and guitar to the modern beats and hooks that flourish in modern R&B.

Tia says exploring self and identity through songwriting and honing her musical skills has been therapeutic. “It’s allowed me to open up and really dig into feelings,” she says, and she hopes her journey and her music can inspire people everywhere, especially young fans in Indigenous communities.

“Just to show somebody that they can do it no matter where they come from, and what circumstances they were given and what cards they were dealt out. It’s doable.”

Tia Wood


1 Comment

Adam Coyl
Adam Coyl
Jun 26

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