The year began with the launch of the Star Catcher program and a first stop for the traveling show at the Winter Tribal Days in Brandon. The Manito Ahbee Festival produced this province-wide talent contest as a way to identify new Aboriginal singers while promoting the festival to rural and northern communities at the same time. After four stops and a number of solid performances, 12 finalists were crowned and awarded the opportunity to record with a producer and studio in Winnipeg. A final contest was held later in the year, where the top act was picked and offered a spot on national television during the live broadcast of the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards (APCMA). Rock outfit, Prodiggy, was awarded this honour.
AMP Camp 2007 followed shortly after the launch of Star Catcher. The week-long music residency was held at the Misty Lake Lodge in Gimli, Manitoba from February 11-16. The group this year included outstanding vocalists Madeleine Allakariallak, Skeena Reece and Renae Morriseau along with innovative electronic music artists DJ Madeskimo. A total of 26 Aboriginal artists participated in the week of business and creative development workshops, coming from the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
April saw fiddler Sierra Noble travel oversees to perform for the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The ceremony was broadcast live across Canada and included Noble’s performance of an original tune, entitled “Warrior’s Lament.” Later in the month, the APCMA announced the addition of Native American artists to each of the categories making it the country’s first Aboriginal award show to allow both Canadian and American submissions.
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) announced their “Open Call” in May, offering up to $20,000 towards the production of music videos for five Aboriginal artists- the winners have yet to be announced. Later in the month, MARIA’s Aboriginal Music Program partnered with CBC Radio Two, NCI FM and the West End Cultural Centre for the Red Roads Concert, giving Eagle & Hawk, Tracy Bone, JC Campbell, Don Amero and Jared Sowan the opportunity to have their performances recorded for broadcast on both networks. Near the end of May, NCI FM released their “Sounds like... NCI” compilation CD giving their loyal listeners the chance to take home tracks by Gabby Taylor, Gerry McIvor, Aaron Peters, D.L.O. and Black Rain.
June played host to National Aboriginal Day and Winnipeg was the site for the Manito Ahbee, APTN, Casinos of Winnipeg and Strongfront Productions celebrations. The Manito Ahbee Festival hosted a pow wow and the Star Catcher finals at the Red River Ex on June 21, while APTN set up a stage for performances by Leela Gilday, Lucie Idlout, C-Weed, Donny Parenteau, Dead Indians, the Spirit Sands Singers, and the Asham Stompers. The Casinos of Winnipeg presented Ray St. Germain and the Aboriginal Express at the McPhillips Street Station that same evening while Strongfront Productions hosted a hip hop and metal show at the Pyramid Cabaret. As in previous years, NCI FM was at nearly every event, keeping the province updated with interviews and coverage of each of the performances.
With all the action in and around Winnipeg during the summer solstice, the Manito Ahbee Festival capitalized on the excitement and released its Star Catcher compilation CD, featuring 11 tracks by each of the talent contest finalists.
In July, seven AMP Camp participants performed at the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Comox, BC after impressing Artistic Director Doug Cox while he instructed workshops in Gimli during the residency in February.
The nominations for the Native American Music Awards (NAMMYS) were announced in August, naming Slidin’ Clyde Roulette, Eagle & Hawk and South Thunderbird as candidates. The APCMA open the polls for their first round of online voting later that month while the Indian Summer Music Awards (ISMA) announced Tracy Bone, JC Campbell, Ron Loutit, Don Constant and Longhouse as nominees for their September awards show. At the end of August, NCI FM released the list of contestants for the 21st annual NCI Jam.
In September, the APCMA announced the nominees for the second annual award show with Manitobans netting 33 chances to win. The NCI Jam later celebrated another capacity crowd at the Centennial Concert Hall and the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA) released their list of nominees with nine Manitobans in the running.
MARIA's Aboriginal Music Program also hosted the first Aboriginal Music Summit in September, bringing over 500 years of experience together for a full day of discussions about Aboriginal music development. The delegates included representatives from funding agencies, music award shows, record labels, development agencies as well as artists from across Canada. A final report was created, highlighting many of the points discussed and electronic copies can be requested from the Aboriginal Music Program Coordinator.
The AMP Camp 2008 call for submissions was released in October and the Aboriginal Music Program starting sending the form out across the country to encourage a new crop of Aboriginal artists to apply.
Three festivals were held in November- the Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg, the Northern Aboriginal Festival in The Pas and the Canadian Aboriginal Festival in Toronto. The Manito Ahbee Festival included the APCMA, a competition pow wow, an education day, a trade show and a music festival. Manitoban acts nabbed two awards at the APCMA and 27 acts performed throughout the festival.
The Northern Aboriginal Festival included a community awards ceremony along with a concert, career fair and youth workshops. Tracy Bone, JC Campbell, Dead Indians, Highway 373, and Darrelyne Bickell performed during the events and the Aboriginal Music Program promoted careers in the music industry at the career fair and workshops.
The Canadian Aboriginal Festival was held at the end of November and Manitoban acts nabbed six awards included Tracy Bone's nod for Best Female Artist. The Aboriginal Music Program hosted three showcasing events for the group and helped the artists market themselves at the trade show in the Roger's Centre.
Oscar-winning songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie hosted two workshops at the MARIA office in December. The first session provided Dominique Reynolds, JC Campbell, Rayne DeLaronde, Tracy Bone and Raine Morin with the opportunity to receive feedback on their songs from Sainte-Marie while the second workshop provided MARIA members with a chance to learn about the songwriters experience in the music industry. After collecting 45 submissions, the Aboriginal Music Program later announced the list of participants for AMP Camp 2008.