Emerging Artists Connect with Manitoba Showcase in Steinbach

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The Indigenous Music Development Program is partnering with the Manitoba Arts Network (MAN) to connect emerging artists with mentors for the RBC Emerging Artists program at Manitoba Showcase 2023. The four-day event runs October 26 - 29 at the Steinbach Arts Council, offering four days of mentorship and pitches for different communities in Manitoba. 

Indigenous artists Orvis and Sadie Cyr are participating in this year's programming, which also features a showcase performance by acclaimed singer/songwriter Adrian Sutherland from Attawapiskat.

Other musicians from Manitoba taking part in this year's RBC Emerging Artists program include DJ Digger Jonez, Emma PetersonOG Koy, and YBK Shakur.

The mentors include artist and tour manager MJ Dandeneau, award-winning artist Rhonda Head, and Indigenous Music Development Coordinator Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais.

Past participants include Gator Beaulieu, Brandi Vezina, Kristen McKay, Martin Desjarlais, Kris Paul, Becky Lou, Stun, Mic North, Kwiat, riel., Kennie Henderson, Greg Personius, Sherri Shorting, Norway Rabliauskas, Mitchell Makoons

Manitoba Showcase is an annual visual and performing arts conference that features some of the best Canadian artists, from a wide range of genres, for Manitoban presenters and galleries, connecting them with future opportunities and collaboration.  

Other musicians from Manitoba taking part in this year's RBC Emerging Artists program include DJ Digger Jonez, Emma Peterson, OG Koy, and YBK Shakur.

Artists participating in Manitoba Showcase 2023 include A.R CASH, Dirty Catfish Brass Band, Micah!, Proximus 5, and Raine Hamilton.


Emma Peterson

Consistently recognized as one of Manitoba’s most promising young country stars, Emma Peterson is known not only for her captivating performances, but for a powerful voice and all too relatable lyricism. It’s that gift for telling familiar, relatable stories that continues to set the singer/songwriter apart, as well as setting the scene for her new single release “Got It Back”.

Growing up in Winnipegosis, MB (which at last count boasts a population of about 617), Emma knows first-hand what it’s like to grow up country proud. She has performed at numerous venues across the province and beyond, including Dauphin’s Countryfest and Niverville Fair, sharing a stage with some of the country’s biggest stars, The Reklaws, Charlie Major, and Andrew Hyatt.

Emma was nominated for 5 awards at the Manitoba Country Music Association Awards 2022, where she took home the award for Interactive Artist of the Year and Album of the Year.


OG Koy

Yeri Concepcion better known by his artist name OG KOY, is a 22 year old Dominican artist who migrated to Winnipeg, Canada at the young age of 15 years old.

OG KOY has always had a passion for music and writing since very young. Working on perfecting his flow and craft resulting in the creation of his own unique sound and style. Which is a beautiful melodic combination of Spanish and English over a RnB/Trap type beat.



Orvis was born in Selkirk, Manitoba and raised in his home community of Cross Lake, Manitoba. After high school, Orvis moved back to Selkirk and became a standout in the burgeoning music scene. A veteran of November Underground and The Bloodshots, Orvis is no stranger to masterminding well-polished Alternative Rock & Roll anthems. The recently released (Spring 2023) Love In Vain EP showcases Orvis’ songwriting abilities and diversity as a recording artist. Orvis is currently making the rounds on the tribute and country circuit with his band Orvis & His Higher Guns.

Orvis is currently recording his debut album. Influences range from Classic Rock mainstays The Beatles and David Bowie to modern R&B and Soul of Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean, but the songs still retain that signature Orvis sound.


Sadie Cyr

Sadie is an 18-year-old Metis artist who loves to create fantasy worlds within her art. She writes with a burning passion for freedom, love and pain, and most importantly, her personal views of the society we are experiencing and how dark and twisted the reality can be, bringing a modern take on dark romanticism. It is her passion to sing and freely express herself in whichever way her heart calls for her, and to find people who share that likeness on the road.


YBK Shakur

To many I am known as Olu Afolabi, the alliance YBK Shakur comes from a nickname I was given in middle school inspired by one of my biggest mentors, Tupac Shakur. YBK to me is a Euphemism that first stands for Young Black King, because that is who I am. Secondly it stands for You Born King. YBK represents the Mentality, Character, and Pursuit of Freedom of Self and others by extension. YBK defines Strength and Courage it takes to face Tribulations and Self Demons. The idea of Self Awareness and Royalty; an Elevated way of thinking and consciousness that I believe we are all capable of achieving. This is an ode to the journey of life, one particularly tough for a black man trying to find his way in the world. YBK understands his journey will be long and that the only way to achieve success will be by taking each step one at a time, a journey he started in 2021 with the release of his first single, “When I’m Gone”.

It is also worth mentioning that YBK is actively involved in the music scene and in his local community. He is a part of Manitoba’s music initiative “BPM — Black People in Music”, and also volunteers for the Youth Hub advisory committee. Young Afolabi has also launched his own entertainment and artist management company called YBK Studios hosting his own shows and accumulating notable performance, publicity and partnerships.


MJ Dandeneau

MJ Dandeneau is a French Anishinaabe / Métis kwe born in Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, MB). Her tours and studio work have literally taken her all over the globe, and nationally recognized with recording awards such as Canadian JUNO, WCMA-Award & CFM-Award. MJ’s deep-seated roots to her French-Canadian and Métis heritage are translated and embodied in the music she creates. 

Over the past 15 years, MJ has created a fiercely independent musical history as a professional touring bassist , including numerous TV performance productions, studio session recordings, producing and performing worldwide (Europe, UK, North America, Scandinavia, Asia, Australia, New Zealand). Her musical path has led her to play with many international artists, including Buffy Saint-Marie, The Violent Femme, Xavier Rudd, Digging Roots, Crystal Shawanda, Rose Cousins, The Good Lovelies, and Don Amero, just to name a few, ultimately attributing to her ability to be versatile and well versed in many genres of music.

“MJ is one of the hardest-working freelance musicians (for studio work and touring) in this part of the world. She is phenomenally versatile. able to perform in any genre of music you can name, and has recorded and toured with musicians/bands representing a wide variety of musical stylings across the world. She has developed quite a reputation for the quality of her musicianship, her consistency and dependability, and has been very much in demand for session and touring work.”  –Winnipeg Free Press


Rhonda Head

Fourteen-time international award-winning Mezzo-Soprano vocalist, Rhonda Head is from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba.

Rhonda will be releasing her fourth full-length album on September 9, 2023, Waniska. Rhonda’s album is emotional and spiritual and it also brought great joy. The album is about loss and finding happiness again - Waniska means to rise up or awaken in the Cree Language. This album is dedicated to my late brother Chris.

Rhonda won a 2022 LIT Talent Music award for her song Kisakhitin I Love You for Best Collaboration Music Rhonda won a 2022 LIT Talent award for her single 500 Years for Best Social Impact Song and for Kisahkihitin I Love You for Best Collaboration. She also won a 2022 One World Music Award for her single 500 Years, and a Global Music award for Coming Home for Best Protest Song. She is the official recipient of Global Music Awards for a pair of her most celebrated songs. Judged by Emmy and Grammy Award-winning artists, Head’s impactful anthem, 500 Years, received a Bronze Medal in the Protest Music category. The lyrics share her emotional journey, moving through the pain of being an intergenerational Residential School Survivor.

“The song dives into the pain of that experience, for me and for all of my people that have endured ‘500 years of pain',” shared Head. “But the song also shows our incredible resilience and how we are finally coming together, all of humanity, to love and to be kind to one another, despite our differences and our past.”

Recorded with the Prague Orchestra, Head’s fan-favorite Kisahkihitin I Love You, also landed a Bronze Medal in the Contemporary Classical category. This recognition adds to her lengthy list of milestones including singing at New York’s Carnegie Hall (2016) and Lincoln Center (2014), judging the GRAMMY Awards regional roots category and attending the Los Angeles Award Show (2020), and sitting at a Board Member at Canada’s largest rights management organization, SOCAN.

“Rhonda shines with her fans and also as a leader in the North American music industry,” says JUNO Award-winning rock icon and band leader of Eagle & Hawk, Vince Fontaine. “Rhonda has trained and performed internationally. Her lyrics touch the soul. She is an intergenerational Residential School Survivor. She is an inspiration in so many ways and continues to be a voice and a beacon.”


Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais

Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais is a multi-award-winning former journalist/broadcaster who’s been on Canada’s media scene for two decades. Over the years she’s worked at CTV News Winnipeg where her stories have aired on CTV Newsnet/News Channel, CTV National News, and CNN. She also worked for many years as a correspondent at APTN National News and garnered attention for her award-winning series about The Sacred Sundance. She is very proud of her final work with the network, Breaching the Sacred—a 22-minute piece showcasing the tragic reality of Indigenous women living with addictions and using while pregnant. She was honoured to win first place for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge in 2008 for her play, Notay Kiskintamowin “Wanting to Know”, the same year she was named a National Aboriginal Role Model by the Governor General of Canada and graduated from the University of Winnipeg where she has been recognized as Notable Alumni and founded the Indigenous Course Requirement.

Shaneen is well known across the country and abroad and is dedicated to promoting Indigenous talent. A highly sought master of ceremonies, event planner, promoter, writer, advocate, volunteer, marriage commissioner and speaker, Shaneen loves to keep busy in the community and has sat on many boards including Cancer Care Manitoba, and Canadian Blood Services. She is proud to currently sit on the board of directors for The Canadian Folk Music Awards and on the Board of Bear Clan Patrol Inc. Shaneen has showcased Indigenous artists and their music throughout her career and is proud to be the Indigenous Music Development Coordinator for Manitoba Music. She aspires to continue working with Indigenous Elders, youth, women, and artists and continue to share information that should be of importance to all Canadians. Shaneen’s most important role in life is at home with her husband Martin and their three sons-Sampson, Marrick and Miller. 


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