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Indigenous music awards

The Indigenous Music Awards, formerly the Aboriginal Choice Music Awards, made a return to Manito Ahbee with a big splash for winners and spectators alike this year.

On a warm evening on May 19, musicians and spectators from across the country gathered at Club Regent Casino in Winnipeg to witness the musical spectacle.

The Red Carpet was rolled out for the occasion with artists and guests lining up to have their pic taken in front pf the big display sign for the Indigenous Music Awards like the CBC crew from Unreserved.

The show was hosted by Kimberley Dawn and Jerry Sereda featuring some fine musical performances but for me the highlight was seeing Northern Cree perform.

Northern Cree were honoured that night with two awards: Best Hand Drum Album and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Instead of the usual trophy, award winners were presented with Hand Drums painted by local youth.

The winners were ushered out to the Red Carpet area to pose with their hand drum award and have their picture taken. 

That's where I caught some of the winners to get their fresh from victory comments but it did not come without a price. 

I was confronted by one young woman who demanded to know who I was before letting me continue my first interview.

It was all cool though because once she found out my name she went to get me the MEDIA credentials I had been waiting for. 

Joey Stylez won for Best Hip Hop Album.

"I was very shocked I won it. You know, because I didn't think that I was going to win it," said Stylez. "I don't know. I guess it's because I've been on a hiatus. Just working on my sound."

While others like Logan Staats, who won for Best Folk Album, was equally surprised with his victory.

"It makes me feel amazing," said Staats. "This album was recorded live off the floor and I didn't have high hopes for it and then it ended up winning every single Indigenous title it could."

With what seems like a recurring theme, Carsen Gray was not expecting to win Best New Artist. 

"I went into the studio to create an EP. So that took about six months and then after that writing more songs. That does take a lot of work and effort. Just trying to find the right producer," said Gray.

Great to see Manito Ahbee executive director Lisa Meeches made more than an appearance at the awards show looking fantastic. For those who might not know, Meeches had a medical condition late last summer and that's why it was great to see her up and around again.

David McLeod, NCI general manager, also took part in the Indigenous Music Conference held on Thursday, May 18 at the RBC Convention Centre. 

The conference gave musicians, music producers and radio people an opportunity to network and learn about the Indigenous music industry that covers many genres and continues to grow.

"A lot of people don't know about the high degree of talent that we have in Canada's Indigenous music scene," said McLeod. 

And not to be entirely overlooked, I spent a couple of minutes talking to some ladies who were manning the table just before the entryway into the music awards.

Hats off to Violet Skye Thomas, Nancy Peters and Suzanne Lynn because without volunteers the awards show would have been that much more difficult to produce.

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