Underground to mainstream

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One of the major Native music award shows, the 2010 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, will be broadcast live on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Nov. 5 at 8 p.m., CST. This is the fifth year of the awards, which grew out of the Manito Ahbee Festival. The concept of the awards is to bring about awareness of aboriginal musicians and to help them become part of mainstream of music.

“This year the Aboriginal Music Awards are in their fifth year and we will be handing out awards in 23 categories,” said Derek McCorrister, APCMA manager. “We have artists from across North America, from both Canada and the United States. Basically, if you had a music release between June 30, 2008 and June 30, 2010, you were considered eligible for the awards, so we had a two-year eligibility period. As long as that project is being sold commercially it’s eligible for the awards.”

McCorrister has been involved with the Manito Ahbee Festival since it introduced its award show in 2006, which is now the APCMA.

“I do a lot of the technical side of it because it’s an online voting system; anyone can log on and vote from anywhere in the world, so I manage the vote. I try to make it as simple and as easy as possible. This year alone we had close to 90,000 votes cast. It’s really been taking off and surpassing our voting records each year, and it’s only getting bigger and better. The goal was to identify these aboriginal artists and hopefully help catapult them into the mainstream music industry. A number of our artists who have appeared here have made that transition to the mainstream, for example rock singer Crystal Shawanda and country music singer Shane Yellowbird – they’ve made that transition into the mainstream and hopefully that’s what we’re going to do with some more artists out there.”

The awards offer a wide variety of categories for artists in order to include as many musicians as possible, and the number keeps growing.

“We have a number of genres that we offer to the artists, everything from traditional pow wow music to contemporary pow wow music, flutes, peyote, and all of the pop genres, rock, country; best group, single of the year, the categories are all there online. We try to add new genres of music each year and try to honor all styles of aboriginal musicians,” McCorrister said.

“The country and rock categories are really taking off, the folk/acoustic category is really high up there, and we offer the rap/hip hop categories, which are growing – the younger artists are certainly trying to transition into the mainstream industry. We also have the pioneers of music in there too, in the rock and the country, so we have a good mix of young and old and it seems to be working for us.

“Our goal is to make the awards fair, and a positive program for aboriginal traditions, and help them with their career. We have a national program where we broadcast the awards here in Canada, and we are working on getting television rights in the United States so we can utilize our stage as a platform for new artists to be showcased who are not well-known down there, and hopefully our awards can kick them to the next level and people will become aware of them.”

For more information visit AboriginalPeoplesChoice.com.