Native America North hits Toronto for JUNOFest

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Eagle & Hawk, Leela Gilday, Digging Roots, Cris Derksen, and Christa Couture are set for two days of workshops and showcasing in Toronto this week during the 40th annual JUNO Award celebrations. The award winning artists are participating in the second installment of the Native America North project, produced by Manitoba Music and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Native America North project supports Aboriginal artists from across Canada by providing them professional development and showcasing opportunities during music industry events. The first group of artists learned about the international markets for music by Indigenous artists and showcased for festival bookers at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals conference in Ottawa. This second group will connect with managers, agents, publicists, and media in Toronto during the JUNO Award week.

The showcase is set for Thursday, March 24 at The Rivoli (332 Queen Street West) in downtown Toronto. Tickets are $10 for the general public. The doors open at 7pm and the music starts at 7:30pm.

The artists will be taking the stage twice and the set times are:

7:30pm Christa Couture
7:50pm Cris Derksen
8:10pm Eagle & Hawk
8:30pm Leela Gilday
8:50pm Digging Roots

9:30pm Christa Couture
10:15pm Cris Derksen
11:00pm Eagle & Hawk
12:00am Leela Gilday
1:00am Digging Roots

Industry professionals and members of the media can be added to the guest list for the showcase by emailing Alan Greyeyes (

Christa Couture: Having paid her dues across BC and the UK, Couture’s delicate voice and aching songwriting chronicles the intertwining grief and grace of love and loss, inspired by her folk singer mother and Arapaho ceremonial musician father.

Cris Derksen: A half-Cree classically trained cellist, Derksen has played with everyone from Inuit innovator Tanya Tagaq to Kanye West. She is known for captivating solo performances building layers of sound into often surprisingly slamming dance music.

Digging Roots: Using Anishinabe (Ojibway) composition technique by finding “song lines”—the melodies suggested by the contours of the skyline, the hillsides, or treelines—this husband-wife duo creates grungy, lush songs with a bluesy indie rock vibe.

Eagle & Hawk: Led by a Winnipeg-born Ojibway guitarist and composer, these veteran rockers know how to wield both pow-wow beats and power chords, as well as partner with symphony orchestras, to pay homage to their heritage and life’s joys.

Leela Gilday: Raised on Dene music and folk ballads in Yellowknife, Yukon Territory, Gilday turned from her classical vocal training to pursue her own vision as a songwriter, one that can rail against the disappearances of aboriginal women, strike universal emotional resonances, and celebrate human hardihood despite adversity.

The workshops will provide the participants with an opportunity to learn about the business models being used by established industry folks and a chance further develop their own strategies and materials.

The workshops titles and panelists are:

Music Writers & Media Pitches
Ashante Infantry (Toronto Star), David Dacks (EYE Weekly, Spinner Canada), Joanne Setterington (Indoor Recess)

Music Managers Forum
Rob Lani (Coalition Entertainment Management), Mike Denney (MDM Recordings Inc), Jude Coombe (Starfish Entertainment)

Trends in Live Music
Julien Paquin (Paquin Agency)

Music Placements
Cheryl Link (Peermusic), Avi Diamond (MapleMusic)

Manitoba Music received 31 competitive submissions from Aboriginal artists for this project. A jury of Aboriginal people working in the music industry reviewed each submission and selected the five strongest candidates.

Manitoba Music and the Canada Council for the Arts also produce the Aboriginal Music Performers Camp (AMP Camp) together. AMP Camp 2012 is scheduled for March 4-9 and the submission deadline is December 4, 2011. The project provides up to 20 Aboriginal artists from across Canada with fives days of business and artistic development training.

Please visit for more information about Manitoba Music.

Please visit for more information about Manitoba Music’s Aboriginal Music Program.

Please visit for more information about the Canada Council for the Arts.

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