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10 Indigenous artists to discover

Today, our host Sarah Burke is presenting you with 10 Indigenous artists to discover in honour of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Indie88 is on the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugaus of the Credit, Haudenosaunee, and Huron-wendat (Wyandot) territory.

We celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st every year in Canada, celebrating the contributions of First Nations, Inuit, Métis peoples, while recognizing their unique heritage, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, celebrated annually on August 9th, marks the first meeting held by the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations back in 1982. According to UNESCO:

“Indigenous peoples live in all regions of the world and own, occupy or use some 22% of global land area. Numbering at least 370-500 million, indigenous peoples represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity, and have created and speak the major share of the world’s almost 7000 languages. Many indigenous peoples continue to be confronted with marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. Through partnerships with indigenous peoples, UNESCO seeks to support them in addressing the multiple challenges they face, while acknowledging their significant role in sustaining the diversity of the world’s cultural and biological landscape.”

Here at Indie88, we’re working on getting more great Indigenous artists into our eclectic playlist and your ears. Here are 10 Indigenous artists we’re loving right now. in no particular order. Let us know your favourites!
 

Aysanabee

Aysanabee is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer songwriter currently based in Toronto. Born Evan Pang, he is Oji-Cree, Sucker Clan of the Sandy Lake First Nation. Moving off reserve at the age of 3, Pang grew up in several northern towns across Manitoba and Ontario until settling in Kaministiquia outside of Thunder Bay with his mother and siblings where he taught himself to play guitar and write songs.His sound ranges from introspective folk and pop-rock to soul anthems with the driving drums, which can be heard in his debut singles, Ocean Breath and Howling. Aysanabee has played in several bands, but over the pandemic, started his solo career under his family name, Aysanabee. He has spent the last 6 years working in journalism for major news outlets, leading him to develop his skills in storytelling, but also dividing his life into two parts. He is currently working on a full-length project that combines both aspects of his life to deliver the story of his family, his struggle with identity and reconnecting with his roots: a story that is echoed all across Canada.
 

Ruby Waters

Ruby Waters is a Métis Singer-songwriter and she’s often compared to a vocal style reminiscent of Janis Joplin or Amy Winehouse. She grew up in the small town of Shelburne, Ontario with artists as parents so she’s been around music from a very young age. She was selected to open for City & Colour on their US tour and her sophomore EP If It Comes Down To It lead her right to the 2022 Juno Awards stage for a performance while celebrating her nomination for Alternative Album of the Year. You have likely heard us spinning her single “Blow,” but she recently shared her new song Harder.
 

William Prince

William Prince is an Anishinaabe Indigenous roots singer-songwriter from Peguis First Nation. Prince won the 2020 SOCAN Songwriting Prize for “The Spark,” and a 2017 Juno Award for Best Contemporary Roots Album for his debut record, Earthly Days. William Prince approaches the big questions with humility and curiosity, and his songwriting is a masterclass in skillful simplicity. He recently opened for Sarah McLaughlin at Budweiser Stage in Toronto, and co-headlined Massey Hall with Serena Ryder who he duets with on “Sing Me A Song.”
 

Ghostkeeper

Calgary-based band Ghostkeeper released their new LP, Multidimensional Culture in May.The duo of (Shane) Ghostkeeper and Houle are originally from the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement in Alberta and met in their early twenties. They began artistically collaborating soon after. Sarah, already a visual artist and musician, was integral to determining the imagery for the project from early on. She utilized her talents to design their album artwork, t-shirts, and masks, while Shane, who had only recently embarked on his musical journey, began laying the ground work for what would become their shared musical voice. Once their vision for the project had presented itself, the duo’s trajectory and purpose became clear.
 

OMBIIGIZI

Fresh off their debut performance at Massey Hall with labelmates Broken Social Scene, OMBIIGIZI, (pronounced om-BEE-ga-ZAY, meaning s/he is noisy) are celebrating the release of their debut album, Sewn Back Together. A collaboration between Zoon (Daniel Monkman) and Status/Non-Status (Adam Sturgeon), OMBIIGIZI are Anishinaabe artists who explore their cultural histories through sound. An amalgam of their unique Indigenous heritages and personal musical architectures, Daniel and Adam imbue their lyrics with their families’ storytelling, revealing truths and finding common ground amidst their differences.
 

Jayli Wolf

Indigenous, Queer, and proud of her post-traumatic growth, Jayli Wolf is a doomsday cult survivor turned activist, actress, and an Alt-Pop singer-songwriter-producer and filmmaker. A by-product of the controversial Sixties Scoop, the Canadian rising act and one-half of Once A Tree made her solo debut with the release of the Wild Whisper EP, to great acclaim and a 2022 JUNO Award nomination for Contemporary Indigenous Artist of the Year. Jayli Wolf is an Anishinaabe/Cree artist and creative based out of Toronto, Canada. She is a Jehovah’s Witnesses doomsday cult survivor and works to be a role model in her community; speaking to Indigenous youth about the entertainment industry and empowering them to follow their dreams. “Wild Whisper is an autobiographical EP that features my father’s experience in the ’60s scoop, leaving the doomsday cult I was raised in, releasing the shame and guilt instilled in me around my bisexuality, depression and mental health, post-traumatic growth, and reclaiming my Indigenous heritage.”
 

Logan Staats

In 2018, veracious Mohawk singer-songwriter Logan Staats was chosen from 10,000 hopeful contestants vying for a spot on musical competition show The Launch. Before an audience of 1.4 million viewers, Staats won, officiating the breakthrough that would lead him to Nashville and Los Angeles, and to his single “The Lucky Ones” winning the Indigenous Music Award for Best Radio Single. In the years between now and then, Staats has come home, making the intentional decision to re-root at Six Nations of the Grand River. “I wanted to bring my songwriting back to the medicine inside of music, to the medicine inside of reclamation,” he says following a phase of constant travel and intensity. Since returning home, Staats has been able to create music authentically again, reclaiming his sound through honest storytelling and unvarnished, sometimes painful reflection.
 

Amanda Rheaume

Amanda Rheaume’s rootsy, guitar-driven ballads introduce crucial dimensions to the world of Heartland Rock. In a genre characterized by anthems of underdogs, assumptions and unfair advantages, Rheaume’s sound and story crucially and radically expand the boundaries, geographic and cultural, to make space for new perspectives on resistance and resilience. A Citizen of the Métis Nation, and an active and proud member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Rheaume’s music is indeed from the heart, and the land. First a songwriter, Rheaume comes from a long line of tireless, transformational organizers and activists, and carries this lineage forward in her ever-growing role as a crucial builder of Indigenous music infrastructure and community. From the International Indigenous Music Summit, to newly-founded Ishkode Records, and the National Indigenous Music Office, the goal of raising Indigenous sovereignty in the music industry drives all of Rheaume’s work.
 

Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Just “two kids from the rez,” Snotty Nose Rez Kids formed in 2016 releasing back-to-back albums in 2017. Notably, The Average Savage was shortlisted for Polaris Prize, and Juno nominated. Their latest release, an album called Life After, was born out of the pandemic with Uncle Rico’s music video landing in rotation on MTV and BET. They were recently nominated for Contemporary Indigenous Group of the Year at the 2022 Juno Awards. Definitely check out their new album, but enjoy this amazing remix featuring Shad and Taabu first!
 

iskwē and Tom Wilson

You may be familiar with either of these artists on their own, but they recently released their debut collaborative album, Mother Love. Their voices intertwine beautifully! iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ (Cree Métis) and Tom Wilson | Tehoh’ahake (Mohawk) have created an album that’s as powerful as it is personal, a set of songs on which their disparate vocal styles fuse seamlessly and, in doing so, result in a sound uniquely their own. Released on July 22nd, iskwē and Tom have shared an incredible debut collaboration of 8 songs featuring songwriting credits from some of Canada’s most celebrated singer-songwriters including Serena Ryder, Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson. To some, these two may seem an unusual pairing, given iskwē’s high concept recordings and live shows and Wilson’s (Junkhouse, Lee Harvey Osmond, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) reputation as a rootsy, no-nonsense storyteller. But the result – a soulful pairing of two of Canada’s most distinctive musical talents – sounds like the two have been performing together for years.
 

[Read More] Charlotte Day Wilson, Ombiigizi, Hubert Lenoir, more make 2022 Polaris Music Prize Short List

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