'It's a bit of a double-edged sword': Jeremy Dutcher on his Indigenous Music Album Juno nomination

Jeremy Dutcher won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for his debut album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Now he's nominated for a Juno Award.
Jeremy Dutcher with host Tom Power in Toronto, Ont. (Sara Cornthwaite)

Originally published on March 11, 2019

Jeremy Dutcher is an operatic tenor, composer and musicologist who won the Polaris Music Prize last year for his debut album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.

As a Wolastoqiyik member of the Tobique First Nation, Dutcher unearthed traditional songs sung in the Wolastoqey language and weaved them into his own music. He was able to bring his ancestral voices back to life thanks to old wax cylinder recordings from the 1900s, some of which were deteriorated or forgotten about. 

This year, Dutcher is nominated for a Juno Award in the Indigenous Music Album of the Year category and will also be performing at the awards ceremony.

In a conversation with q's Tom Power, Dutcher reflected on his whirlwind year and explained exactly what the nomination means to him, saying that as honoured as he is, there's still room for improvement when it comes to recognizing Indigenous music.

"I have to commend the work of people like [Buffy Sainte-Marie] who really advocated for this category to be included in these awards. ... [But] there are no Indigenous nominees outside of the Indigenous music category and it's not because we're not putting out excellent music. So for me, it's a bit of a double-edged sword — I wish that we weren't siloed into one category."

You can watch the Junos on Sunday, March 17 on CBC. 

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full interview. 

Produced by Vanessa Greco

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