12 Sask. musicians changing the sound of the province
CBC Saskatchewan launches the Local Music Project
Adeoluwa Atayero is a Nigerian-born singer-songwriter who lives in Regina. He is a communications officer with CBC Saskatchewan.
I have always been enthralled by stories.
Whether it was watching Super Story every Thursday evening in my cozy living room in Nigeria, or getting lost in a book while walking to class in high school, or even listening to Drake's Thank Me Later and musing on what my romantic life as a rapper would feel like, I could always get lost in a good story.
It was this appreciation for good stories that inspired me to begin sharing mine, first as short stories, then as poetry, then as essays and finally as songs. There was something about making a compelling story with melodies that transcended all the other forms for me. Making music and performing it quickly became my favourite way to share and heal from experiences.
All storytellers are important. All forms of storytelling are essential. However, there is something innately divine about musicians being able to craft stories so special that strangers from all different walks of life come together and start singing, or yelling, these songs back to them. It is a bond that has to be preserved.
This is what CBC's Local Music Project is about.
CBC wants to help local talent elevate their voices and get their music into more ears in the province and beyond. The goal of the Local Music Project is to help introduce our audience, new and old, to Saskatchewan-made music any way we can. It is important that as a community we are proactive about our musical storytellers and our connections with them.
As a musician myself, I know how hard it is to make those connections in this COVID-19 world. Connecting with audiences and even fellow musicians has proved to be especially difficult, but I am grateful for little pockets of hope, like a show I was able to perform at the iconic Amigos Cantina last October.
To increase these opportunities, CBC's Local Music Project will be supporting Saskatchewan music internally and externally. This project is an opportunity for some of the newest and most promising musicians in the province.
Listen to our Local Music Project Spotify playlist here
I can still clearly remember getting a DM from Nige B. about working on a song together. Not too long after, we had swapped emails, and in a week or two we had finished and released a song.
Nige B. is an Aboriginal musician/producer from Saskatoon. His music is a tasty blend of indie and hip hop, with a touch of electronica. Since he released his first solo project Circa 1990 last year, he has crossed the 10,000 stream count on Spotify and bagged a nomination for electronic artist of the year at the 2021 Saskatchewan Music Awards.
On Jan. 21, he released a remix of his song Come Unto Me featuring Olawale, Naked Beatz and Braynezee.
You can listen to Nige B.'s latest project here.
I've had the pleasure of working with Melodna on a number of projects. One thing that always leaves me in awe is her presence — on and off the stage. She takes on every task and goal with an inspiring level of passion and dedication.
Melodna has quite the resume. She has gone from singing in her church, to accompanying Don Moen and Lenny Leblanc in concert, to being part of gospel group Tehillah Minstrels. Since becoming a solo act, she released her debut single KRYPTONITE in 2020 and has gone on to release more music and garner more than 20,000 streams.
She has also performed at Regina Folk Fest and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, and got nominated for best R&B artist at this year's Saskatchewan Music Awards. This single mother has faced a lot of challenges but she never lets them get in her way.
You can listen to Melodna'a latest project here.
The best musicians in the world are those constantly evolving and tweaking their craftsmanship. This is definitely true for Fabian Villeneuve. The Saskatoon-based Indigenous artist is a former metalhead turned folk alternative songwriter. He is currently working with other artists and on some singles as he prepares to release an album.
Fabian's recent work has also been exploring the themes of faith and hope.
You can listen to Fabian's latest project here.
One of Saskatchewan's newest voices, Jackie has started making waves on the music scene largely through collaborations. Whether its working with me on an unreleased track, or her duet single Pocket Dialed with fellow Saskatchewan artist Graham Tilsley, her openness to making something new with others is impressive. She has her own signature style that combines pop, contemporary R&B, lo-fi moods and electronic beats.
In 2001, she won a youth songwriting competition and composed a song for CBC Radio. She is currently working on a body of work due for release in a couple of months.
You can listen to Jackie's latest project here.
When I first met Rooky, I knew him as a photographer. As time has passed, Rooky has proven that photography is not the only art form he has the chops for.
In 2020, his debut E.P. Worlds Apart was released and gained airplay not only in Canada but also in his home country, Nigeria.
He was nominated for hip hop artist of the year at this year's Saskatchewan Music Awards and hosted his first concert earlier this month. His sophomore E.P. Satori is set to be released on Feb. 22.
You can listen to Rooky's latest project here.
ZHE the Free
ZHE The Free is easily one of the province's most influential hip hop musicians. Born Zoe Slusar in Alberta, ZHE grew up being exposed to a myriad of musical influences that ignited a passion to not only create music, but also create opportunities for other musicians to share their art and experiences.
She founded the Cypher Club, a group of musicians from Saskatchewan and Alberta who engage in freestyle rap sessions and performances.
She was on the selection committee for the 2021 Juno Awards rap category and is currently wrapping up her latest project.
You can listen to ZHE's latest project here.
Patrick Moon Bird
Patrick Moon Bird is an Indigenous lo-fi bedroom pop artist and producer in Prince Albert. Much like Nige B. and Fabian Villeneuve, Moon Bird transitioned from making hardcore metal music to a softer genre in recent years.
Moon Bird is a self-taught instrumentalist and with more than 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. He is creating his own lane here in the province. He is releasing his next musical project, Going Through The Motions, on Feb. 12. On the album, he tackles themes of mental health and his personal struggles.
You can listen to Patrick's latest project here.
Contemporary gospel artist Zochi is redefining what an artist in the genre should look and sound like with every new release. Zochi's music has garnered more than 20,000 streams, proving that there truly is a demand for her music at home and abroad.
Zochi also makes unique visual art that expresses a range of emotions and connects to her audience with varying levels of depth.
You can listen to Zochi's latest project here.
The Youtube sensation Brian Mendoza has 838,000 subscribers. The Filipino singer-songwriter has also found great success on streaming platforms, racking up more than 600,000 streams on Spotify alone.
He is gearing up to release new music soon on his way to becoming Canada's next big hearthrob.
You can listen to Brian's latest project here.
velours is an alternative pop singer/songwriter based in Saskatoon.She released her first E.P. Identity in September 2020, produced by Juno-award winning producer Ryan Stewart. She has since gone on to release more music and gained more than 30,000 streams, along with more than 50,000 views for her YouTube videos.
She has also been nominated for the categories of rock/pop artist of the year and best music video twice at the Saskatchewan Music Awards.
You can listen to velours' latest project here.
TOVA, a Nigerian born Canadian R&B singer, is an incredible artist and collaborator. He published his debut single, Fleeting, in 2020. He has since released his debut E.P. Pedestal and a number of other songs to much acclaim and more than 20,00 streams.
In 2021, TOVA perfomed at the SaskMusic Winter Showcase in March, headlined the final day of the Regina Folk Fest 2021 in August, and got a nomination in the inaugural R&B artist of the year category at the Saskatchewan Music Awards.
In addition to working on his own music, TOVA has frequently collaborated with other musicians and has writing and production credits for musicians like myself, Oboise, People of The Sun, Melodic Child, and Grace.
You can listen to TOVA's latest project here.
vbnd is a 25‑year‑old Saskatoon bassist, DJ, producer and the founder of the Soulmate Collective. Since making his debut on the music scene, he has been signed by music label Deep Matter and gone on to perform at Sasktel Saskatchewan JazzFest, as well as a plethora of music venues all over the world.
He has more than 10,000,000 streams and is concurrently featured on tastemakers' playlists across platforms. vbnd was recently recognized as the R&B Artist of the Year at the 2021 Saskatchewan Music Awards.
He is currently on the lookout for new collaborators as he is preparing to put together his next record.
You can listen to vbnd's project here.
Every Friday, throughout the month of February, we're shining the light even stronger on three of the artists featured in a dedicated Meet the Artists radio segment. These will air across the province on CBC Radio One show "The Afternoon Edition". You'll be able to find them all on-demand after they air below.
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