Review: Indigenous Music Awards @ Club Regent
For those of you who are new to this blog, I’m not Aboriginal; well, not that I’m aware of. My ancestors mostly came from Eastern Europe. But I have this deep love, appreciation and respect for Aboriginal culture, so I try to get out to as many events as I can to feed my spirit and soul.
I look forward to the Manito Ahbee Festival Pow Wow every year. This year though, I decided to branch out a little more and attend the Indigenous Music Awards. I’ve never been to a music awards show before and tickets were $20, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
I was given a cool metal keychain as I entered the Club Regent Event Centre and then I made my way to the rush seating at the back of the theatre. I found a seat and looked around. I didn’t recognize anyone except…is that Fred Penner standing at the front of the stage? What’s he doing here?
I flipped through the program and realized I had no idea who any of the nominees or performers were. Not. One. So for $20, I was going to be educated and entertained by musicians who were good enough to be celebrated with an award, which made me feel pretty excited.
An Elder opened the show with wise words about culture and legacies. Then the curtains opened and two young boys sang while playing hand drums; it was pretty cute. They joined the group to the side of the stage around the large drum while two women danced. Then a bunch of dancers made their way from the sides of the theatre and danced in the isles.
It felt a bit strange for me, to see these dancers whom I always equate with all that’s natural in this world, dance in a theatre full of metal and plastic. It felt out of place. I don’t know why I don’t get that same feeling at the Convention Centre. Maybe because it’s larger and everywhere you look there’s that Aboriginal culture with the beads and the feathers and the drums, etc. Maybe in that context it overtakes the structure itself…
Hosts, Kimberley Dawn & Jerry Sereda took the stage and the first award for Best Rap/Hip Hop Album went to Joey Stylez for “#Greymagic”. His acceptance speech promoted “togetherness” regardless of race or colour or culture, which I really enjoyed.
Up next was Best Rock Album, but before the winner was announced, the presenters acknowledged Chris Cornell’s passing. The audience seemed to acknowledge that too and Kristi Lane Sinclair won for her “Dark Matter” album.
The first performance of the night was by Christa Couture who sang a delightfully delicate song which had a laid back feel to it.
Rhonda Head’s acceptance speech was eye-opening. She won the Best Inuit, Indigenous Language, or Francophone Album award for “Kisakihitan”. She said she was really proud she won because she had to learn her language. Her parents knew her language, but didn’t share it with her due to the effects of residential schooling. The crowd seemed to be quite happy that she won.
Unfortunately, I missed the winner of the Best Instrumental Album (DJ Shub “Pow Wow Step”), because an usher approached me and asked if I wanted to sit closer to the stage. To which I replied “Yes, I would like that very much”. To my surprise, she moved me to ROW 8 on the floor. So I ended up sitting with all the musicians and other media people, which was pretty awesome.
Felipe Gomez from Chile was the next performer followed by the Best Producer/Engineer Award (Derek Miller “Thru The Red Door, Logan Staats/Goodbye Goldia”) and Best Radio Single Award (Black & Grey “Pretty Little Nightmare”).
Mariame, who is being promoted as “the Cree Rhianna”, sang one of her songs. I’m not a huge fan of Pop and especially electronic drums, so it didn’t really reach me. She had a nice voice though.
The crowd erupted in applause when Rosanna Deerchild won Best Radio Station Program – Promoting Indigenous Music for “Unreserved: Radio Indigenous” on CBC Radio 1. An audience member actually yelled out “I TOLD YOU!”
Best International Indigenous Release went to The Imbayakunas for “Imbaya Full Flavour” and then Kimberley Dawn & Jerry Sereda performed a Country song together.
Lisa Meeches was introduced after that performance and took awhile to take the stage because she was “mesmerized by Jerry’s belt buckle”, which caused the audience to erupt in laughter.
Lisa introduced Fred Penner and then it became clear why he was there. He and Lisa created a children’s TV show based on Aboriginal culture. Fred invited other musicians on stage and performed a song about holding your head up. In the middle of the song, two young jig dancers took the stage and almost brought the house down. They were great!
The Best Blues Album went to Cary Morin for “Cradle to the Grave” and Best Folk Album went to Logan Staats for “Goodbye Goldia”. Both awards were given to the artists the crowd cheered the loudest for.
The Best Country Album award went to Jade Turner for “North Country” who was overwhelmed because she didn’t think she was going to win.
For me, one of the highlights of the night came during the Lifetime Achievement Award. Northern Cree was given the award and the whole theatre rose as they made their way to the stage. Then the crowd fell completely silent and listened to Steve Wood’s acceptance speech. He spoke about reconciliation as well as about their Grammy performance. He ended his speech with something along the lines of “someday our people will rise, and it will be through the arts”. It was all very interesting. Then the group performed, which the crowd (and photographers) loved.
Best Music Video went to District Avenue for “Revival”, Best Pop Album went to a very nervous Mariame for “Bloom”, and Best New Artist went to Carsen Grey who wore an amazing black and white silk Indigenous patterned dress with black sequence panels on the sides. It was an eye-catching dress, for sure.
The last performance of the evening was my favourite. Crystal Shawanda absolutely knocked my socks off with her killer voice. When she started singing, goose bumps shot up my legs, crawled up my spine, and prickled all over my scalp. And that feeling intensified as she continued to sing. My goodness, what a voice! I’m looking to purchase her music as I type this review. She sang two songs and then the show ended.
The whole show lasted about two hours and it was incredibly well produced. I felt like I was sitting at the Grammy’s, but in Winnipeg. I’m looking forward to next year.
P.S. The Manito Ahbee Pow Wow starts Saturday and runs until Sunday evening at the RBC Convention Centre. I HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you’ve never been. I’ll be there for sure.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs