Last week we introduced you to Aboriginal Music Performers Camp (AMP Camp), which kicked off Jan. 31 at the Falcon Trails Resort in Manitoba.
Since its inception in 2006, AMP Camp has helped fill a long-existing gap in the national music scene by providing indigenous artists an opportunity to develop their business skills and hone their artistic abilities. The week-long residency includes more than 40 hours of professional and artistic development sessions on topics like social media management, songwriting, performance planning and preparation, tour planning, marketing releases, earning credible media, building a team, funding, and vocal coaching.
Past participants, including Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award winner Shy-Anne Hovorka, JUNO Award nominee Don Amero, and CBC’s The 8th Fire composer Cris Derksen, have gone on to release acclaimed albums, receive multiple music awards and nominations, and make music their full-time job.
This week we take a closer look at the 19 artists participating in the eighth edition of the camp.
Arthur Renwick is an accomplished singer/songwriter and storyteller who sings while stomping a license plate, playing harmonica, and flailing bottleneck slide on a Dobro. Renwick was born and raised in Kitamaat, B.C., in the Haisla Nation, and has been performing his original music in festivals and venues across Canada and Europe. His debut solo album, The Cigar Box Chronicles, released in 2012, captures the experience of love, loss, liquor, hope, birth and death.
Born in Winnipeg, educated at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and touring internationally, singer/songwriter Ashley Robertson is an artist with an impressive amount of acclaim for her unique brand of genre-bending country music. Ashley’s most recent single, How Are You My Love, is featured on the compilation album, We Canada Walk, a fundraising and awareness campaign for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women. She also received six nominations for the 2015 Manitoba Country Music Awards and is prepping a new studio album for release sometime next year.
Brendt Thomas Diabo
Brendt Thomas Diabo was born and raised on the Mohawk Reserve of Kahnawake just outside of Montreal. Brendt grew up listening to legends such as Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, whom he later drew from musically. Brendt has independently released two EPs and numerous singles, has airplay on various radio stations and has also been making his mark touring continuously throughout Quebec, Ontario and New York.
Chelsey Jodoin (Chelsey June of Twin Flames)
One half of Twin Flames, Métis singer/songwriter Chelsey June spent her childhood surrounded by music. It was this early introduction to a wide variety of music and sound that helped to shape the unique sound and style she today calls her own. Her debut album, Seize the Day, is the result of perseverance and passion, and is the first of many dreams to come true for the up-and-coming artist.
Craig Frank Edes (Mob Bounce)
Also known as The Northwest Kid, Craig Frank Edes is mainly of Gitxsan heritage, from the Northwest Interior of British Columbia. He’s been an active poet/emcee since late 2010, and performs as one half of Mob Bounce. Since that time, the duo has released two full-length projects, and are working on a third.
George Okpik (Jaaji of Twin Flames)
The other half of Twin Flames, Jaaji plays what he considers Inuit folk/pop/rock with an acoustic flavour and an Americana feel. Jaaji released his self-produced CD entitled Nunaga, which won Best Indigenous Language CD at the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg.
With soul and voice well beyond her years, Ila Barker has been building her music career organically and is in a position to make a significant statement on the Canadian music scene. She’s currently working on her second release along with the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre’s Just TV program. Passionate about her folkcraft,
Ila devotes much of her time to performance opportunities, as well as writing tunes inspired by life’s events that surround her.
Danielle Ghostkeeper (Bebe Buckskin)
Singer/songwriter/guitarist, Bebe Buckskin (a.k.a Dani Ghostkeeper) is a Cree Metis artist hailing from the northern Alberta woodlands. She is a trained actress, established playwright, long-time music lover and performer. Her musical style is a fusion of roots/blues/folk/rock, with sprinklings of traditional influence.
Gillian Thomson (Sister Says)
Gillian Thomson is an indigenous contemporary vocalist and songwriter that fronts the soulful genre-bending pop duo Sister Says (with her brother, Robert Thomson). Her musical education includes studying privately with Vancouver jazz and soul vocalists Kate Hammett-Vaughan, Bonnie Ferguson, and Dawn Pemberton (she also studied piano with Dawn), as well as studying music theory with guitarist Johannes Grames.
Since winning the nationally-broadcasted NCI Jam in 2009, Jade Turner has debuted her first album and also finished her red seal in industrial mechanics (millwright).
Her debut album, Thanks to You, was nominated for Best Country CD at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards and she was awarded the Minister Robinson Most Outstanding Aboriginal Manitoban Award for emerging artists in 2013.
She’s currently working on a new album with Murray Pulver and Just TV, which will be out in 2016.
Jeremiah Manitopyes (Drezus)
Coming off four awards at the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg, this Saulteaux-Cree emcee has been killing the Canadian hip hop game for years but has now taken the world stage. Staying true to his people, Drezus is in a lane all by himself. Welcome to the warpath.
Johnny Sherritt (Wolf Saga)
Wolf Saga is an Ojibwe artist from London, Ont. He’s in love with synthetic sounds and catchy melodies. The power is in the message of the song, and he tries to spread positive ones.
Miranda Currie’s music is courageous yet vulnerable, with lyrics from the land. A nod to the aboriginal fiddle tradition, her folky style is both heartfelt and upbeat. She released her first solo album in June of 2014. The opening track, But I Can, draws on her experiences living with a traumatic brain injury, while the influence of her aboriginal roots and love of the northern landscapes can be heard in her songs, Northern Girl and Eddy Out.
Jeremy Dutcher is a Toronto-based musician whose home community is Tobique First Nation. Before arriving in Toronto, Jeremy studied at Dalhousie University and graduated with an honours in music, concentrated in operatic performance. With his compositions, he attempts to merge two worlds – the classical and traditional.
Melody McKiver is an emerging Anishinaabe musician, media artist, community organizer, and arts programmer of mixed ancestry from Obishikokaang Lac Seul First Nation and Scottish/Lithuanian origins, raised and currently living in Ottawa. As a classically-trained solo performer, they explore the range of the viola’s possibilities, spanning from minimalist to danceable, often incorporating laptop processing and looping. Melody is also an experienced drummer/percussionist that works in jazz and hip-hop settings.
From just underneath the Northern Lights in the city of Thompson, Man., hails Métis singer/songwriter, Nelson Little. Nelson has been recording and building his own library of original music since 2010 and was honoured with an Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award for Most Outstanding Aboriginal Manitoban in 2014. In 2015, Nelson released his second album, Ain’t Afraid of The Truth.
Rhonda Head is from Opaskwayak Cree Nation. She has studied private vocal lessons for over 20 years. She has recorded two award-winning CDs and just released a single called 500 Years.
Robert Thomson (Sister Says)
The other half of Sister Says, Robert Thomson is a touring musician, beat maker, singer/songwriter and composer of Haida and Tsimshian descent. Academically, Robert has studied music theory, audio engineering, bass guitar and was mentored by composer Donald Quan.
Professionally, Robert began playing in clubs in 2003 and has since performed all over the world with the likes of Bitterly Divine (rock/blues) and Ezeadi Onukuwlulu (African/world beat).
Travis Hebert (Mob Bounce)
Heebz (Travis Hebert), is an articulate and powerful emcee and producer for Mob Bounce. He has been a drummer/percussionist for 17 years and applies his skills towards beat making and production duties. He links his lyrical content to spirituality, culture, indigenous issues and personal healing. His goals and dreams with Mob Bounce are to provide music that creates social change and offers medicine and healing for all nations and generations on Mother Earth.