Three Indigenous artists to watch in 2023
Music is a universal language that communicates across barriers. Musicians use this language to share messages from the heart with their audience.
Over the past year, many Indigenous artists have made waves in the music industry.
As we usher in the new year, CBC reporter Sara Kae sat down with three up-and-coming Indigenous artists listeners should look out for in 2023. From their poignant lyrics to their catchy melodies, these artists bring their talents to the table to that the world appreciates it.
Amanda Gendron of Cold Lake First Nation grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta. She describes her music as moving and says she tends to break songs down into a simple guitar and piano format with deep lyrics.
Gendron is fairly new to the scene with her debut single released in the fall of 2021.
His latest release, released in August 2022, is called Physical. She wrote the song when she was 16 and felt very connected to the song as it helped her heal from what she considers her first real heartbreak.
Gendron is dedicated to her art of songwriting and has written about 230 songs, she said. She’s been working to release more music in the near future, but she’s also taking the time to really hone her craft, especially as she grows creatively.
She also hopes she can be a role model, especially for young girls, by bringing elements of her culture to her music and learning more about her Cree Dene roots, she said. It’s something she said she felt too intimidated to do at a younger age.
« I was too shy to go. I hope young girls can connect with their own culture, » she said.
She hopes that in 2023 she will release five more tracks to share her love for songwriting with the world.
Kyle Mischiek, also known as Sunsetto, had moved about 25 times by the time he was eight years old. He eventually settled in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, until he left home at age 17.
He identifies as having Mi’kmaq roots and says he has recently connected more deeply with his heritage on his father’s side.
« I’m still learning a lot about the bonds of my family because it was a very divided family. There’s still so much to learn, so I’m still coming to terms with that, » he said. .
He says he feels his style of musical storytelling stems from his roots and the hopes that shine through in his music.
Sunsetto describes his music as alternative, pop R&B, or as he puts it, « R&B music for Coachella ». However, he describes himself first and foremost as a songwriter.
This year he spent time working on his music in California and building his reputation. It’s something he plans to continue doing with the concerts and releases he has planned for the new year.
Evan Redsky of Mississaugi First Nation grew up in Blind River, Ontario and now resides in Toronto.
Growing up, he spent a lot of time hitchhiking from his reservation in Toronto — adventures his mother didn’t much enjoy — but Redsky was determined to immerse himself in the energy the city offered. He moved to the city as soon as possible, around the age of 17.
He has been releasing music since 2017 and released his first full album Oversight in the fall of 2022. It’s an album he credits to the help of his artist friends and his sobriety. Sobriety allowed him to look at what he really wanted for himself and his music, and focus on that, Redsky said.
Oversight is a mix of country and americana that features many moments of raw and real expression. Redsky also includes the struggles that indigenous peoples face in the lyrics of various songs.
Blood Flows Like A River (Colten Boushie), the fourth track on the album, highlights the story of Colten Boushie. The 22-year-old Cree man was shot and killed by a white farmer in rural Saskatchewan in 2016.
Redsky hopes to use his music to raise awareness of Indigenous injustices and stories.
« Music is a tool for healing and understanding, » he said, explaining what he hopes his music can bring to the listener.