Eclectic Oji-Cree singer, musician, and SOCAN member Anachnid won the second annual Indigenous Songwriter of the Year Award, sponsored by TD and The SOCAN Foundation, and presented at the Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg, on May 17, 2019.

A grateful Anachnid received the award, in the form of a beautiful traditional hand drum, from SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste and James Baxter, Branch manager for TD  Canada Trust in Winnipeg.

Mimi O'Bonsawin

Mimi O’Bonsawin

“When I went to a non-Indigenous high school and composed my first song at 13, and I performed it in front of everyone, no one believed that I wrote it. So I stopped making music for 10 years,” said Anachnid, now 23. “I do suffer from addictions, and self-control [issues], and that’s what the song ‘Windigo’ is about – not letting that take over my spirit. I’m healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually with music.” She also said that the date was the exact same one on which her grandfather passed away six years ago, that his spirit was beside her, and closed with a Marianne Williamson quote, that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Among the other winners were Mimi O’Bonsawin, who earned Best Pop Album for Trillium; Angela Amarualik, who won the Best Inuit, Indigenous Language, or Francophone Album for her eponymous record;  Don Amero, who – after six nominations over the years – finally took home the Best  Country Album honour for Evolution; and Ernest Monias, who enjoyed the Lifetime Achievement Award, for a remarkable career that’s seen him release 18 albums, perform in many different styles of music (including Gospel, country, and rock), and serve as a role model for Indigenous youth across Canada. For a complete list of 2019 nominees and winners, click here. The awards also included powerful performances from Midnight Shine, Angela Amarualik, and Celeigh Cardinal.

The two-day Indigenous Music Conference that preceded the awards gala provided First Nations artists and music entrepreneurs with an opportunity to discuss challenges, share best practices, and connect with music industry professionals to help them develop new skills, tools, and strategies.

Leonard Sumner

Leonard Sumner

Charlie Wall-Andrews, the SOCAN Foundation Executive Director, moderated the afternoon session of the first day, on May 16, where the industry representatives included ShoShonna Kish (of the group Digging Roots, and an arts and music  administrator and facilitator); Sam Baijal (Artistic Director, Hillside Festival); Beth Cavanagh (Publicist, What’s The Story?); and David Chavez ((Festival and Series Curator & Producer, City of Chicago).

With all participants seated in one large circle, and the microphone being passed to anyone wishing to speak, the attendees discussed the best ways to capture programmers’ attention; how building a career in step-by-step increments can be longer-lasting than a viral breakout; the underestimated value of word-of-mouth recommendations; and how crucial it is to build and develop authentic relationships with others in the music business. Explaining how  to best foster those relationships, 2019 JUNO Award nominee (for his album Standing in the Light) Leonard Sumner (who’s toured Australia with A Tribe Called Red, and worked with Jeremy Dutcher) summarized it clearly and concisely, as he said, “Show up; be ready; do a good job; and be nice to people… Work on your show, and make the art good.”

Stay tuned for video interviews from the conference!