The 2018 Indspire Awards take place Friday, March 23, in Winnipeg, and this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Indigenous-led charity’s annual awards.
Since its inception, the organization — which focuses on investing in Indigenous education and achievement — has honoured more than 350 Indigenous, Inuit and Métis people who are leaders, innovators, and inspirational successes in their communities. From artists to educators, athletes to scientists, entrepreneurs to politicians, activists to philanthropists, and elders to youth, the Indspire Awards cast a wide, inclusive net to highlight a vast array of fascinating, phenomenal people.
This Friday’s ceremony will be televised on CBC in June (date to be confirmed), but there’s such an incredible lineup of musical artists scheduled to perform, we couldn’t wait until then to highlight them all. If you’re in Winnipeg, you can see them for yourself this Friday night (tickets are here), but if, like many of us, you have to wait until the broadcast, scroll down and find out everything you need to know about the 25th annual Indspire Awards’ musical performances.
Who: Indian City
From: Winnipeg, Man.
Why you should know them: The folk pop band is an Indigenous supergroup founded in 2012 by lead guitarist Vince Fontaine, formerly of Juno Award-winning band, Eagle & Hawk. The collective includes Don Amero, Shannon McKenney, Jay Bodner, Jeremy Koz, Rena Semenko, Neewa Mason, Atik Mason, Rich Reid and Gerry Atwell. Past members include William Prince and Pamela Davis. The band is currently nominated for the 2018 Juno Award for Indigenous music album of the year for its third record, Here & Now.
Who: Kelly Fraser
From: Sanikiluaq, Nunavut
Why you should know them: Fraser became a viral sensation in 2012 for her incredible cover of Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” which she translated into Inuktitut. In fact, her early specialty was translating Top 40 pop songs into Inuktitut. Since then, the folk/pop/hip-hop artist, who sings and raps in Inuktitut and English, has released two albums, including 2017’s Sedna. She’s also an activist and leader — she helps organize Nunavut Hitmakerz, which offers underprivileged youth opportunities to write, record, and release music — who is completing her degree in Native Studies, and hopes to become a lawyer.
Who: Jennifer Kreisberg
From: Tuscarora Nation, N.C.
Why you should know them: Kreisberg is a singer, composer, producer, educator, and activist who joined the critically acclaimed Indigenous women’s singing group Ulali when she was just 17 years old. (Ulali is also Buffy Sainte-Marie’s favourite vocal group, and Kreisberg has done backup vocals for the iconic singer-songwriter in the past.) Kreisberg has supported and collaborated with a variety of artists, ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Robbie Robertson to Cris Derksen, who is profiled below.
Who: Cris Derksen
From: Toronto, Ont.
Why you should know them: A cellist/composer fusing classical, contemporary, and electronic elements, Derksen has worked in almost every artistic medium with some of the most accomplished and interesting artists in the world. Derksen composes for dance, theatre, film, TV, and documentaries, and has collaborated with everybody from Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red to Kanye West and Naomi Klein. Derksen has also released three albums so far, including 2015’s The Orchestral Powwow Project, which features Jennifer Kreisberg (above) on vocals.
Who: Double the Trouble (Luc and Aidan Wrigley)
From: Winnipeg, Man.
Why you should know them: The French, Métis and Cree twins are now in their early teens, but they’ve been playing the fiddle since they were three years old. They began busking with their dad, Rob, on guitar, at the age of six, and started performing at festivals at seven years old. On the trio’s second album, 2017’s Juniper Woods, they expanded their sonic universe by including Luc and Aidan’s original songs along with covers and traditional numbers.
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