Cree singer looks to pick up Indigenous Music Awards after breakout debut album

Since the 2015 release of her debut album, Mariame Hasni has hit number one on the Indigenous Music Countdown, and opened for Buffy Sainte-Marie. This week, she'll see if she can add an Indigenous Music Award to the list.

Mariame Hasni released her debut album Bloom in 2015, nominated for best pop album and best new artist

Mariame Hasni, a singer from the Cree community of Chisasibi, is up for two Indigenous Music Awards this week. (N'we Jinan)

Quebec Cree singer Mariame Hasni has had a busy few years since the release of her album Bloom, in 2015. 

Since then, she's hit the number one spot on the Indigenous Music Countdown, and opened for Buffy Sainte-Marie — but this Friday could be the biggest day yet, as she finds out if she can add an Indigenous Music Award to the list.

The 26-year-old singer has been nominated for two awards: best pop album, and best new artist. 

"The nominations are a big deal to me," said Hasni. "(It's) a big accomplishment. I don't usually sit down and take it in and think about the things I've done so far and be happy and proud of myself."

Bloom, Mariame Hasni's debut album, peaked at number three on the iTunes Canada charts following its 2015 release. (N'we Jinan)
Hasni, born of a Cree mother and Algerian father, has been performing in the Quebec communities of James Bay since she was a teenager. In 2015, she released Bloom, a 6-song EP under the N'we Jinan record label, which peaked at number three on the iTunes Canada pop charts.

Hasni said she is thankful for getting the chance to travel to other parts of Canada, as well as meeting Sainte-Marie. 

"It was a great experience. I was really happy to meet her and to learn from her and get to know her," she said, adding Sainte-Marie gave her advice about the music industry. "It's not something where it's handed to you in a book."

Hasni has spent the last two years juggling her expanding music career with being a single mother of two young children, a boy named Malachi, and a girl, Tiara. 

"My kids are still a little young, they don't understand yet," said Hasni. "When I tell them things about my show, they just say: 'can I come with you? I want to come!'

"When I bring up my daughter, she'll want to come up on stage too."

Though she's had plenty of successes over the last two years, Hasni says that she is continuing to learn and grow as an artist. 

"It comes with the good and the bad. You've got to have thick skin," she said. "I'm still learning, little by little. The good things are connecting with your fans."

Another highlight was connecting with those fans at the release party for Bloom, which happened in her hometown of Chisasibi. It was important to her to put on a big show with dancers, lights and a stage.

"Those were the happy experiences for me. It was nice to share with my hometown." she said. "(I've been) performing there since I was 13."

The Indigenous Music Awards are part of the Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg from May 17 to 21. The festival is billed as a gathering to celebrate "Indigenous culture and heritage to unify, educate and inspire." 

The awards ceremony will happen this Friday at 8 p.m. at the Club Regent Event Centre in Winnipeg.