Five Contemporary Native Musicians/Bands You Should Be Listening To
Five Great Modern Indigenous Musicians and Bands
In a world where Indigenous peoples' culture often fades into the background or is appropriated by others, these musicians are taking a stand for their culture, rights, and traditions using their music. This article highlights a few musicians and bands representative of several North American tribes who have found their voice creating music that spreads their messages and shares their culture with the world.
1. A Tribe Called Red
This Ontario-based electronic music group combines elements of First Nations music with instrumental hip-hop, dub-step, and dance music. The group is made up of Ian "DJ NDN" Campeau ( of the Nipissing First Nation), Tim "2oolman" Hill (Mohawk), and Bear Witness (of the Cayuga First Nation). A Tribe Called Red has won several prestigious awards and been short-listed for many more. They are also heavily involved in social activism and advocates for Aboriginal rights, and this is often reflected in their music. A Tribe Called Red's self-titled first album is available to be downloaded for free on their website.
Blackfire is an "alter-Native" band composed of three Navajo siblings from Arizona. They blend traditional Native American sounds with modern punk-rock music to create their unique, hard-hitting songs. An important feature of their music is their social and political commentary, particularly concerning the treatment of Indigenous people in America.
3. Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie is considered a Canadian folk icon. She has been revolutionizing the folk music scene for 50 years, and was one the of the first musicians to combine modern and traditional musical elements. She continues to be extremely successful today, having won the prestigious Polaris Music Prize for her most recent album, Power in the Blood, in 2015. Sainte-Marie uses her platform to advocate for the rights of Indigenous people. Don't miss her collaboration with A Tribe Called Red!
4. Bruthers of Different Muthers
Bruthers of Different Muthers is an independent band composed of four very talented Aboriginal musicians. Based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, this rock band mixes in traditional drumming and chanting with grungey hard rock sounds, resulting in one award-winning album, with hopefully more to come. Their songs are filled with touching lyrics celebrating the Native way of life and subtly criticizing the way Indigenous affairs have been handled by the government.
Jeremiah Manitopyes, also known as Drezus, is a Cree rapper from Manitoba. Once heavily involved in drugs and gangs, he draws on his experiences and the journey back to his people to write meaningful, emotional lyrics that call on Native people to stand up for their rights. Drezus is proud to be an Indigenous person, and this comes across strongly in his music. His two albums have been the recipients of many music awards.
The artists on this list, despite creating music of different genres, are all representative of the Indigenous music scene in North America. However, don't let your knowledge of Native musicians end here. There are countless more talented artists and bands who make awesome music just waiting for you to discover them. Happy listening!