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Aboriginal musicians make their mark at 2014 Juno Awards

Five very different yet equally impressive artists popped up on the Juno radar last month and will shape the future of Aboriginal Juno history once again.
Desiree Dorion is nominated for Aboriginal Album of the Year for her album "Small Town Stories." (Desiree Dorion )

Five very different yet equally impressive artists popped up on the Juno radar last month and will shape the future of Aboriginal Juno history once again. 

Desiree Dorion 

Desiree Dorion is a Manitoba born Métis voice whose contributions to her home province not only include two major albums; she’s also a very accomplished lawyer, music workshop instructor and a soon to be mother of two. 

Small Town Stories carries her heartfelt and devoted musical donation to country music; in fact it’s safe to say that Desiree Dorion IS country. 

Nathan Cunningham
Not only does Nathan Cunningham bleed that honest and straight up legitimate country music life, he’s got a history of wonderful collaborations that include hip hop and rock. (Nathan Cunningham/Facebook)

Also in that category but just a couple provinces away is Nathan Cunningham from Alberta.  This guy has serious pipes. Not only does he bleed that honest and straight up legitimate country music life, he’s got a history of wonderful collaborations that include hip hop and rock. 

Check out his Road Renditions album, it won multiple Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards last summer.  He’s been a part of the hip hop group Smashville and is currently featured on a great tune called Money with his buddy Rellik.  He’s also got a new album in the works, Highway Reclamation: another ode to life on the road as a singing road soul.

Inez
Inez Jasper is one of the proudest members of the Sto:lo Nation near Chilliwack, BC. (Karolina Turek)

Inez Jasper is one of the proudest members of the Sto:lo Nation near Chilliwack, BC.  Here’s an example of someone taking what’s been passed on through their blood over the generations and delivering it in a fresh and respectful way. Burn Me Down might be what you call dance, and at the end of the day that’s what the indigenous were made to do.  

Dancing would lead to trouble once upon a time for us indigenous peoples here in Canada, thanks to the potlatch ban the Government of Canada passed in 1885.  Inez sings about this very time in a tune called Dancin’ on the Run.

Amanda Rheaume
Ottawa’s Amanda Rheaume has roots in Manitoba’s north and the NWT near the Hudson Bay. (Sean Sisk Photography)

Ottawa’s Amanda Rheaume has roots in Manitoba’s north and the NWT near the Hudson Bay. Her latest album Keep a Fire is homage to the legacy she possesses and continues to share with music lovers. 

George Leach

One of the heavy hitters of this category this year is without a doubt Lillooet, B.C.’s George Leach. The first time I ever saw him live was at an outdoor show in Winnipeg during the summer. I was truly blown away not only by his intense stage presence but by his determination and will to rock, and how hard he did it. It began pouring rain half way though and it just added to the full tilt rock and roll energy he was blasting us with. 

 
One of the heavy hitters of this category this year is without a doubt George Leach, from Lillooet, B.C. (GeorgeLeach.com)
George Leach is a nonstop celebration of music; you must experience his Surrender album before you die. 

To have these five artists represent such a vast and dynamic pool of musicians across Canada is remarkable. 

On March 30 when we are celebrating the accomplishments of our musical leaders it’s the above mentioned who will be remembered for holding down a category that still hasn’t been broadcast live during the show yet is still one of the most important ever.

About the Author

Melissa Spence

Melissa Spence AKA Miss Melissa, is an award winning radio host who has devoted the past 6 years of her life to delivering fun and entertaining radio to the world. Spence is host of Manitoba’s wake up crew on NCI-FM and host of the National Aboriginal Music Countdown. Spence is also the music and program director of Streetz FM.