Each year, the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards—a celebration of artists in Canada that is hosted as part of the Manito Ahbee Festival—recognizes more than 20 Native musical artists in every genre and musical style. Recently the best and brightest came out once again to showcase their musical talents. To recognize these gifted First Nations and Native artists, we happily highlight five of this year’s winners. Catch these First Nations Musical Artist Award Winners to Watch Out For!
Once featured on Canada’s Got Talent, Dallas Arcand is a Métis Cree champion hoop dancer who took home Best Flute CD for Thunderbird Spirit. Since 2004 Arcand has been working with Black Bear records, and he released his first full-length album in 2007, Rezalationzzz... under the artist name KrayKree. In 2007 he released a traditional Native flute album, Picking Sweetgrass, as Dallas Arcand.
“Hoop dance has been here for around 1,200 years, “ Arcand told hooping.org. “Originally the hoop dancing was a ceremony that our ancestors used to help restore balance and harmony in the world. Some say that the hoops had healing powers themselves.”
Jason Lepine (Métis) started playing fiddle at age 7, having been influenced by his father, Garry Lepine. At 39 years old, Lepine has just taken home the Best Fiddle CD APCMA for Drivin’ Force. As a Manitoba Fiddle Association Hall of Famer, Lepine is a self-taught, fiddle-playing force to be reckoned with.
As a fiddler on the performance circuit, Lepine is no wallflower. He has competed in The Grand Masters Fiddling Contest in Ottawa; the Asham Stomper Festival; Back to Batoche Days in Saskatchewan, Folklarama, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Ontario; performed at the Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards in Edmonton; the Celtic Colors International Festival, and "The Mix" on APTN.
Having performed in Nashville, Texas, New York City and across Canada, Jasmine Netsena (resident of Fort Nelson) has earned her APCMA for Best Folk/Acoustic CD, Take You with Me. Though her album is her debut, we will be sure to continue to see Netsena’s works for many years to come.
"Everybody has their own insight and window into what's going on in the world and in their world,” Netsena told Northern News Services. “I think we all have a unique experience in the world that should be shared. As a kid I decided that I have a voice that's worth sharing."
The Winnipeg Boyz
Certainly no stranger to the APCMA scene, this cutting-edge, no-holds-barred hip-hop duo took home this year’s Best Group/Duo and Best Rap/Hip-Hop CD for their submission Ab Initio. Previously sweeping the awards in 2013 with nine APCMAs, the Winnipeg Boyz—Jon-C and Charlie Fettah of Heatbag Records—are blowing it up, with no slowdown in sight.
“It’s great to have support in our aboriginal community,” said Jon-C in a previous interview with ICTMN. “If you can’t make it at home you can’t expect to make it in someone else’s city. During the shows, we’re out there taking pictures with everyone and giving autographs. We’re still the same guys we were, watching hip-hop acts coming through Winnipeg—it’s just that now we are also up there rapping.
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Promoting a positive message to “follow your own dreams,” Young Medicine took home the APCMA’s Best Blues CD award for an album embracing the other half of the group’s message, Be Your Own Person. Artists Curt Young (Salteaux-Cree from Gordon’s and Cowessess First Nations in Saskatchewan) and Jamie Medicine Crane (Blackfoot from Kainai & Piikani Nations in Alberta), Young Medicine primarily works with youth. As a 2011 World Championship of Performing Arts, the group has traveled throughout Canada, as well as the United States, Peru, Africa and China.
In addition to their APCMA recognition, Young Medicine was also commended by the Blood Tribe’s Economic Development and Treaty 7 Economic Development organization for showing substantial growth.