Manitoba Music's Aboriginal Music Program Celebrates A Decade

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Manitoba Music is celebrating the 10th anniversary of one of its most acclaimed initiatives, the Aboriginal Music Program (AMP).

The Pyramid Cabaret is set to host the birthday party on June 21, National Aboriginal Day, featuring an open mic hosted by The C-Weed Band along with appearances by Eagle & Hawk, Joe Maxim Band, Ali Fontaine, Winnipeg Boyz, and many more. Kicking off at 9 p.m. with emcee Miss Melissa of NCI FM, the event is free for Manitoba Music members and $10 at the door.

Since its launch in 2004, the Aboriginal Music Program has delivered groundbreaking projects and services to help First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people develop sustainable careers in Manitoba’s music industry. It remains the first and only program dedicated to Aboriginal musicians and industry in North America. Made possible through the support of the Government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba, FACTOR, and Manitoba Film & Music, the program is a driving force behind a vibrant Aboriginal music community in Manitoba. 

Over the years, AMP has presented market development showcases of Aboriginal talent in Manitoba and in key national and international industry markets. Native America North, a partnership with Canada Council for the Arts, has helped acts like Tanya Tagaq, Leela Gilday, and Indian City connect with influential industry in markets including New York, Toronto, and Montreal.

AMP has produced numerous professional development initiatives, including workshops, panels, and one-on-one mentoring opportunities for emerging artists as well as youth, including its acclaimed Aboriginal Music Mentors series. The program also hosts aboriginalmusic.ca, a hub of information for and about the Aboriginal music industry in Manitoba, offering concert listings, news, resources, and an online directory of Manitobans working in music. 

One of AMP’s flagship initiatives, the Aboriginal Music Performers Camp (AMP Camp), has offered emerging and mid-career Aboriginal recording artists from across Canada an opportunity to develop their business skills and artistic abilities. The one-week residency, a partnership with Canada Council, has featured celebrated faculty for seven iterations. The list of past participants reads like a veritable who’s who of the Aboriginal music community, including acclaimed artists and award winners Don Amero, Inez Jasper, Shy-Anne Hovorka, Tracy Bone, and Cris Derksen.

“The Aboriginal Music Program has been integral in my growth and understanding of the music industry," says Don Amero, who has earned awards and accolades, including a JUNO Award nod, and who now sits on Manitoba Music's board of directors. "I know that my success in music is a direct result of the mentorship offered through AMP and specifically at AMP Camp.”

“The Aboriginal Music Program continues to be one of Manitoba Music’s most important programs. A big thank you to all of the talented, generous, and dedicated musicians and entrepreneurs from within our province and beyond our borders who have participated, supported, mentored, learned, and shared with us over the past decade. We’d also like to thank our funders and government partners for recognizing the continuing significance of this program,” said Manitoba Music’s executive director, Sara Stasiuk.

AMP was first helmed by then program director Errol Ranville, a three-time JUNO nominee and legend on the Canadian music landscape, and who will be on hand to host with his act The C-Weed Band at the June 21 celebration. Ranville helped to develop the initial framework of the program and did significant outreach into the Aboriginal music communities of Manitoba before handing over the reins to Alan Greyeyes, who has managed the program since 2006 when Ranville left to help launch the Manito Ahbee Festival.

Greyeyes has since become an integral and inimitable figure in the Canadian music industry, mentoring countless artists and emerging industry workers, volunteering as a board member of Aboriginal Music Manitoba and the Manito Ahbee Festival, and helping to launch Winnipeg’s acclaimed Aboriginal Music Week festival. Greyeyes was honoured with a Future Leaders of Manitoba award in 2013 for his dedication to the arts.

AMP delivers projects and services that respond to the needs of the industry as identified by a steering committee of Aboriginal music industry stakeholders from Manitoba, including NCI FM's Dave McLeod and Melissa Spence, Stuart Desnomie (Arts Branch), hip hop producer Tim Hill, and recording artists Desiree Dorion, Leroy Constant, Vince Fontaine, JC Campbell, Jerry Sereda, Don Amero, and Tracy Bone.

For more information about the Aboriginal Music Program and the 10th anniversary event, please visit aboriginalmusic.ca.

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Aboriginal Music Program AMP Errol Ranville The C-Weed Band C-Weed Alan Greyeyes Tanya Tagaq Leela Gilday Indian City Eagle & Hawk Joe Maxim Band Ali Fontaine Winnipeg Boyz Don Amero Inez Jasper Shy-Anne Hovorka Tracy Bone Cris Derksen AMP Camp

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