(ANNews) – While Siksika and other First Nations are home to many gifted musicians, artists, and performers, it is not always easy to know where to tap into these talented people. On June 30 and July 1, a talent showcase for Indigenous musicians with cash prizes will be hosted by the First Nations Music Program at the Strathmore Rodeo Grounds. All Indigenous musicians are encouraged to register.
The program is a new initiative aimed at inspiring, equipping and showcasing Siksika and other Indigenous musicians from the surrounding area.
In March 2019, a Calgary based organization called Franciscans and Friends received a grant from the government of Alberta to undertake a First Nations Music Program. The pilot area for the program is Siksika Nation.
Some key aspects of the program are to gather and compile a directory of Siksika musicians and performers, to channel resources, to provide technical and logistical support to artists, and to develop a mentorship program that will remain after the program ends. One of the long-term goals is to make such a program available to First Nations across Alberta and eventually across the country. This program is open to all styles and genres of music from traditional, to alternative, to mainstream.
Franciscan and Friends founder, Denis Grady, explained that, “the program will allow for local artists to make themselves known and showcase their talents while working with other artists in constructive mentoring relationships.” He added that, “by getting this database in order, local performers will be connecting themselves into a growing network and will allow for Indigenous musicians to access opportunities to ply their trade and to make an income from their work.”
Siksika Nation members, Joey Big Tobacco, Candace Twigg, Rocky Crowchief and Leita Sun Walk have been hired to develop the database and to begin the outreach stage of the program and the Music Project continues to look for others to join the staff.
Siksika Councillor, Carlin Black Rabbit has endorsed the Music Project for its potential impact on the community, saying, “The Music project will be a great benefit to musicians from Siksika Nation and will create a channel for all of our musically gifted members to showcase their talents and abilities both in our community and for a larger public audience. This will allow for a sharing of our traditional ways with others as well as put our artists in a position to develop their musical skills.”
Secondary benefits of the program will include opportunities for marketing, sound recording and engineering, grant writing workshops to access funding for artists, and promotion among local and regional organizations such as the Calgary school boards and groups that want to learn more about Blackfoot culture and music.
The program will host the First Nation Talent showcase at the Strathmore Rodeo Grounds on Canada Day weekend. The talent contest and artist database are open to any Indigenous talent including bands with one Indigenous member. First place is $1000 for both individual and group performances. There will also be a Youth category. Anyone interested in working with the project, local artists or musicians wanting to be added to the registry are encouraged to put their names forward to [email protected] or call 403-397-1947.