Unlike so many musicians during the pandemic, Shoshona Kish and Amanda Rheaume weren’t trying to find ways fill up too much time on their hands.

Besides their longstanding and successful careers as singer-songwriters and recording artists themselves, Kish (who is Anishinaabekwe, and a member of the JUNO Award-winning duo Digging Roots) and Rheaume (Métis Nation and a Canadian Folk Music Award winner) have busy lives as activists in their Indigenous communities.

They first met onstage at the Ottawa Folk Festival in 2003, and in 2017 they got together to launch the International Indigenous Music Summit, now in its fourth year. It was while working on the Summit that they first considered the idea of launching a record label of their own. Their partnership proved to be bigger than the sum of its two parts. According to Rheaume, “It’s sisterhood, like family. The connection and the alchemy is just that much stronger.”

First Up: Aysanabee
Ishkode Records’ first signing is Toronto-based Oji-Cree singer-songwriter Aysanabee. The multi-instrumentalist creates genre-defying music, which makes him a perfect fit for the new label, and his debut Ishkode release will be an album in 2022. “I think it’s really exciting,” says Kish, “and I think that these are voices that haven’t been heard. I think we’re going to hear all sorts of new sounds and new ideas that we currently don’t have access to.”

Ishkode Records (pronounced, ish-KOH-day) – the first major-label-distributed (by Universal) Canadian record company created and run by Indigenous women – is the end result. On a three-way conference call, Kish explains that “As we were looking at the ecology of indigenous music here and abroad, we came to realize some of the big gaps” that existed and had to be filled.

Launching the label, which references its name from an Anishinaabe prophecy, wasn’t motivated by frustration with the music industry in general, nor a determination to make a statement of their own. “It was mostly inspiration,” says Kish. “There’s just so much extraordinary talent – these incredible voices and human beings that you want to work with, that you want to be a part of amplifying to the world.”

Just as their own music is completely distinctive from each other’s, the music to be found on Ishkode promises to be unpredictable. “Indigenous people and our nations, we’re so diverse,” says Rheaume. “It’s not all just the same.” The label, she said, will be “focusing on authenticity and truth telling. There are so many artists who are courageous, and are defining their own space, instead of trying to fit into a space that already exists.”

The label’s primary goal isn’t to create an umbrella definition for Indigenous music, but to provide a space devoted to narrative sovereignty. “Narrative sovereignty is really about self-determination,” says Kish. “How we tell our own stories – it’s a core thing that Indigenous people are fighting for. It’s an inherent right.”

While COVID-19 may have created the right space in time for both of them to embark on a new journey, “It would have happened inevitably,” says Kish. “Given everything that has happened in the world, it felt that to be engaged in really meaningful work, and make a real contribution, was very important to us at the time.” The label’s first release was the Digging Roots single, “The Healer,” on Aug. 5, 2021. Kish said they’ll have, “new offerings, new signings to announce In the upcoming weeks and months.”

SOCAN presented five SOCAN No. 1 Song Awards at the 2021 edition of the Osheaga Festival in Montréal, held Oct. 1-3: one award each to Ruby Waters, JJ Wilde, and bülow, and two to Charlotte Cardin – all of whom played standout sets at the once again “live-and-in-person” event.

Ruby Waters earned her SOCAN No. 1 Song Award for “Blow,” co-written with Sam Willows and Terry Sawchuck, which reached the top of the CBC Music Top 20 on May 13, 2021.

JJ Wilde took home the hardware for “Mercy,” co-written with Brett Emmons, which scaled the peak of the Nielsen BDS Modern Rock chart twice, on both March 1st and April 19, 2021.

bülow accepted her plaque for “Revolver,” co-written with professional songwriters Lowell, Nathan Ferraro, and Mike Wise, and published by Hyvecity Music, which attained the zenith of the CBC Music Top 20 on July 22, 2021.

Charlotte Cardin won two No. 1 Song Awards, one each for “Meaningless” and “Daddy,” both co-written with her frequent collaborators  Jason Brando and Marc-André Gilbert. There were two co-writers on “Daddy,” Mathieu Sénéchal and Marco Nicodemo, while Cardin’s publisher, on all of her songs, is Red Brick Music Publishing. “Daddy” topped the CBC Music Top 20 on March 4, 2021, and “Meaningless” reached No. 1 on the CBC Music Top 20 on April 20, 2021, and  the Top Radio Correspondents Anglophone chart on May 17, 2021.

Presenting the awards on behalf of SOCAN were our Chief Membership Officer Jean-Christian Céré; Manager, A&R, Melissa Cameron-Passley; and A&R Executives Racquel Villagante (Los Angeles) and Sara Dendane (Montréal). Also attending for SOCAN were Paroles & Musique online magazine Editor Eric Parazelli and Communications and Marketing Generalist Marie-Michèle Bouchard.

SOCAN congratulates our members on these great accomplishments!

Gala SPACQ 2021For its 16th edition, the SPACQ Foundation (Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec) unveiled the winners of its annual awards ceremony on Sept. 27, 2021, at the Imperial Theatre in Montréal. In total,16 prizes of $10,000 each were awarded to singers, songwriters, and composers on the Québec cultural scene. Louise Forestier hosted the event for a thirteenth year.

SOCAN, represented by its President of the Board of Directors Marc Ouellette, and Chief Membership Officer Jean-Christian Céré, presented Gaële with the Stéphane Venne Award for a non-performing songwriter. She receives this award for her body of work, well established over the years, thanks to her knack for the right word, a clever rhyme, and highly evocative images.

“Sixteen years already!” said Diane Juster, President of Fondation SPACQ. “Year after year, it’s always with renewed pleasure that Fondation SPACQ celebrates the accomplishments of authors and composers while gathering not only those creators, but businesspeople, broadcasters, and other major players in our musical ecosystem. The major changes in our industry are getting deeper and deeper, and have a major impact on the state of music creators. It is vital that we keep defending their interests, and stop the erosion of their rights. Thanks to the continued commitment of our partners, Fondation SPACQ is able to shine a light on, and recognize, the tremendous talent of our creators.”

SOCAN congratulates the 2021 winners:

PRIX ANDRÉ-DÉDÉ-FORTIN – Presented by Stingray
Budding Career

PRIX RICHARD GRÉGOIRE – Presented by Hydro-Québec
Film Music

PRIX BEAU DOMMAGE – Presented by RNC Média
Creative Bond


PRIX PAUL DARAÎCHE – Presented by Arsenal Média
Country Music

Writing for Others

PRIX ÉDITH BUTLER – Presented by Bell Média
Canadian Francophonie

PRIX DIANE JUSTER – Presented by Sirius
Social Involvement

PRIX ROBERT CHARLEBOIS – Presented by Power Corporation
International Success

PRIX EDDY-MARNAY – Presented by Productions Feeling

PRIX SYLVAIN-LELIÈVRE – Presented by Fiera Capital
Passing the Baton

PRIX LUCILLE-DUMONT – Presented by Industrielle Alliance

PRIX ANDRÉ GAGNON – Presented by Québecor
Instrumental Music

PRIX GILLES VIGNEAULT – Presented by the National Bank
Ongoing Career

PRIX LUC PLAMONDON – Presented by ICI Musique

Exceptional Imagination