Three Indigenous artists to watch in 2023
2022 was a good year for these artists, but 2023 is looking even better
Music is a universal language that communicates beyond barriers. Musicians use this language to share messages from the heart with their audiences.
This past year saw many Indigenous artists making waves in the music industry.
As we usher in the new year, CBC reporter Sara Kae checked in with three up-and-coming Indigenous artists that listeners should look out for in 2023. Whether it be their poignant lyrics or their catchy melodies, these artists are bringing their talents to the table for the world to appreciate.
Amanda Gendron of Cold Lake First Nation was raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta. She describes her music as soulful and says she tends to like to break down songs into a simple format of guitar and piano with deep lyrics.
Gendron is pretty new to the scene with her first single being released in the fall of 2021.
Her most recent release, which came out August of 2022, is called Physical. She wrote the song at the age of 16 and felt very connected to the song as it helped her heal from what she considers her first real heartbreak.
Gendron is dedicated to her craft of songwriting, and has written around 230 songs, she said. She's working to release more music in the near future, but she is also taking time to really hone her craft, especially as she creatively grows.
She also hopes that she can be a role model, especially to young girls, by bringing elements of her culture to her music, and learning more about her Dene Cree roots, she said. It's something she said she felt too intimidated to do at a younger age.
"I was too shy to go after it. I hope younger girls are able to connect with their own culture," she said.
She hopes that in 2023, she will release five more tracks to share her love for songwriting with the world.
Kyle Mischiek, also known as Sunsetto, had moved homes approximately 25 times by the age of eight. He eventually settled in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia until he left home at 17.
He identifies as having Mi'kmaq roots, and said he recently connected more deeply with his heritage on his fathers' side.
"I'm still learning so much about my family's connection because it was a very split up family. There is still just so much to learn so I am still coming to terms with that," he said.
He says he feels that his style of musical storytelling stems from his roots and hopes that comes through in his music.
Sunsetto describes his music as alternative, R&B pop, or as he puts it, "R&B music for Coachella." However, he describes himself as a songwriter first and foremost.
This year, he spent time working on his music in California, and has been building his reputation. It's something he plans to continue doing with the gigs and releases he has planned for the new year.
Evan Redsky of the Mississaugi First Nation was raised in Blind River, Ontario, and now resides in Toronto.
Growing up, he spent a lot of time hitchhiking from his reserve into Toronto – adventures his mom was not very fond of – but Redsky was determined to submerge himself in the energy that the city offered. He made his move to the city as soon as possible, at around the age of 17.
He's been releasing music since 2017, and released his first full length album Oblivion in the fall of 2022. It's an album that he credits to the help of his artistic friends and sobriety. Sobriety allowed him to look at what he really wanted for himself and his music, and focus on that, Redsky said.
Oblivion is a mix of country and Americana that features many moments of raw, real expression. Redsky also includes the struggles Indigenous peoples face within the lyrics of various songs.
Blood Runs Like A River (Colten Boushie), the fourth track on the album, highlights Colten Boushie's story. The 22-year-old Cree man was shot and killed by a white farmer in rural Saskatchewan in 2016.
Redsky hopes to use his music to raise awareness of Indigenous injustices and stories.
"Music is a tool for healing and understanding," he said, explaining what he hopes his music can bring the listener.