The Indigenous peoples of North America have been making music since time immemorial. As part of Re:Sound’s mission to amplify Canadian music creators, we are spotlighting influential Indigenous musicians.
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s music and vocal support of the Red Power movement launched her into the forefront of North American activism in the 1970s. Despite eliciting American ire, Buffy Sainte-Marie continued to lead an illustrious career over multiple decades.
Susan Aglukark broke new ground for Inuk musicians in the ’90s. Aglukark’s music combines country and pop with traditional Inuit folk traditions which earned her three Juno Awards, including best new solo artist in 1995.
Crystal Shawanda is a JUNO Award winning country-blues artist who was born in Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Manitoulin Island, Ont. and is still a deeply influential artist for numerous Indigenous and settler Canadian musicians who hope to follow in her footsteps.
Robbie Robertson’s Mohawk heritage greatly influenced his music, where he took influence from the oral history he grew up hearing in the Six Nations of the Grand River. He would carry his Indigenous roots with him across his multi-decade career, from his time with the Band to his solo work in Music for Native Americans.
Laura Vinson’s experiences growing up Métis serve as the backbone of her music, where she sang about colonization and women’s rights. She paved the way for fellow Métis artists, earning several JUNOs nominations in a 6 year span.
The Snotty Nose Rez Kids challenges our perception of Indigenous people, mixing club beats with bold lyrics decrying Indigenous stereotypes. They have also used their music to further Indigenous advocacy efforts, with their 2018 single “The Warriors” protesting against the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The Snotty Nose Rez Kids have been shortlisted for a number of Canadian music awards, including the JUNOs, the Western Canadian Music Awards and the Polaris Music Prize.
Take a dive into CBC’s curated Indigenous-focused playlists to support Indigenous music creators: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-music-playlists/collections/818428-indigenous