Mali Obomsawin

"Obomsawin remains the central pillar in the architecture, allowing the rest of the group to shine on their own terms." —Jazz Times
an Indigenous person in her 20s wearing a headwrap with stripes and flowers sits in a windowed corner, looking down at the bass guitar she holds

MALI OBOMSAWIN is one of’s “top ten Jazz Artists to Watch this year.” An award winning bassist, songwriter and composer from Odanak First Nation, Mali’s stunning debut Sweet Tooth (2022, Out of Your Head) received international acclaim and was named in “best of” lists from The Guardian, JazzTimes, and NPR. Sweet Tooth’s success has brought Obomsawin’s touring band to major jazz festivals across the US and Canada, and landed her a triple-feature in the hit Hulu FX series Reservation Dogs soundtrack.

A Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist, Mali spent the years 2014-2021 touring internationally with beloved folk-rock band Lula Wiles. An in-demand bassist in the folk and jazz circuits, Mali appears often as an accompanist with contemporaries like Jake Blount and Lizzie No, and has performed at premier festivals like Newport and Philly Folk Fest. She can also be found in galleries and creative music spaces with the likes of Peter Apfelbaum, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble. In addition to their artistic work, Obomsawin is a community organizer dedicated to land justice and tribal sovereignty.

Mali received the 2022 International Folk Music Association's “Rising Tide Award," which honors young artists who embody the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice. They also received the New England Foundation of the Arts' "New Work New England" award in 2022. Mali is a member of The Julia Keefe Indigenous Big Band and Indigenous Performance Productions' Welcome To Indian Country. As a composer-arranger, they scored the upcoming film We Are The Warriors, collaborated with Red Sky Performance and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Palaver Strings.

Beyond the stage Mali is a community organizer and advocate for Indigenous rights, environmental justice and landback. She works as a writer and educator with the Wabanaki-led Sunlight Media Collective to document and promote stories at the intersection of environmental justice and Tribal sovereignty. Her journalism has been published recently in Smithsonian, National Performance Network, and the Boston Globe. In 2020, Mali co-founded Bomazeen Land Trust, the first ever Wabanaki land trust, where she currently serves as executive director.