Sponsored by TD
(ANNews) – An amazing development initiative through the National Music Centre (NMC) is providing new platforms and career opportunities for aspiring musicians from Indigenous communities across Canada. It’s called OHSOTO’KINO.
From a chart-topping indie-folk/pop duo, to an Ojibway experimental jazz musician, to a Cree pop-R&B singer-songwriter, artists from Indigenous communities in Canada are sharing their stories and their music with the help of this initiative.
OHSOTO’KINO, which in Blackfoot means “to recognize the voice of,” aims to support emerging musicians from Indigenous communities in Canada. OHSOTO’KINO is an especially meaningful name for the initiative, because it acknowledges the Blackfoot people and territory in Calgary where NMC is located.
OHSOTO’KINO is sponsored by TD Bank Group, through the TD Ready Commitment, TD Bank Group’s corporate citizenship platform, the goal of which is to work towards helping build a more inclusive future. It is also focused on helping to support the 92nd call to action of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s Calls to Corporate Canada – a three-part call that urges the corporate sector to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a reconciliation framework for its policies.
The OHSOTO’KINO development program is part of the ongoing commitment by TD to diversity and inclusion, which includes support for Indigenous communities, visible minority groups, women, people with disabilities, and people who identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and their allies (2SLGBTQ+).
“TD is proud to sponsor the OHSOTO’KINO program as part of our wider commitment to helping promote diversity and inclusion, and to supporting people from Indigenous communities. This initiative is particularly special because it offers unique platforms for these emerging artists to share their talents with more people across Canada and build their careers with professional assistance. We can’t wait to see how these musicians will use their newfound spotlight to develop their sound and vision on a larger scale for a wider audience,” said Keetah McBeath.
OHSOTO’KINO focuses on three elements: the creation of new music in NMC’s recording studios, artist development through a music incubator program, and exhibitions via the annually updated Speak Up! gallery.
The OHSOTO’KINO Recording Bursary program provides artists from First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities access to the NMC’s world-class recording studios and “living collection” of musical instruments, which spans 450 years of technical innovation. As part of the bursary, two artists will be awarded a one-week recording session at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, to produce a commercial release and “use history to make history.”
In 2022, Joel Wood, a talented Cree musician and drum-maker from Maskwacis, Alberta, and Twin Flames, a multi-award-winning, chart-topping indie-folk/pop duo, were the recipients of the recording bursary.
“I never would have dreamed of being able to record in a facility like the National Music Centre or having the tools that I had access to,” said Joel Wood. “Language revitalization was part of the intention behind recording my new album and singing has always been a way for me to connect with my Cree language.”
The OHSOTO’KINO Indigenous Music Incubator is a five-day intensive artist development program for emerging musicians of all genres from Indigenous communities to learn new skills, connect with music industry experts, and hone their craft at NMC’s facility inside Studio Bell.
“Being a part of OHSOTO’KINO was really special. I got to learn from other musicians in the industry who hold their culture to a high standard, which I appreciate so much. We have a responsibility as Indigenous Peoples to bring our culture with us, to hold our heritage and our own stories close to us, and to allow our entire selves to be seen as much as possible,” said Zoey Roy.
Speak Up! Exhibition
The National Music Centre’s Speak Up! exhibition is an annual online and physical exhibition at Studio Bell that highlights artists from Indigenous communities who are making social and political impacts in Canada.
The exhibition features storytelling, audio, and artifacts, to give visitors the opportunity to learn about the artists’ inspirations and the power of music to open conversations about sensitive issues and spur social change.
This year, five new artists have been added to the exhibition: artist and activist Susan Aglukark; folk-rock duo Kashtin; néhiyaw rapper Eekwol; late folk music pioneer Curtis ‘Shingoose’ Jonnie; and fiddler Andy DeJarlis.
Several prominent artists in the gallery in the past have included Buffy Sainte-Marie, Willie Dunn, and Tanya Tagaq.
“For thousands of years, music has played an integral and sacred role within the lives of First Nation, Metis and Inuit people,” said David McLeod, a member of the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba and curator of Speak Up!, “Indigenous music has always been on the land, a part of the scene, always resilient, always creating opportunities and pushing boundaries, be it in the past, the present, or the future.”
For more details on OHSOTO’KINO, please visit www.studiobell.ca/ohsotokino