Home Feature The International Indigenous Music Summit has taken the online presentation of music...

The International Indigenous Music Summit has taken the online presentation of music in a fantastic direction

Photo by Mark Allard-Will of North Sask Music Zine

Over the course of the past year, artists and music industry professionals, who typically spend a few weekends a year at music conferences, hopping from hotel room to hotel room, club to club, taking in short sets by as many artists as they can possibly see, have adapted to a new reality: online showcases.

Instead of playing raucous live music venues or intimate hotel room sets, artists have been performing solo sets in front of their smart phones for the rest of us to watch.

It works, but to repeat a phrase we’ve all been uttering for a year now, ‘It’s not the same.’

This year’s International Indigenous Music Summit, which kicks off today, is taking a unique approach to showcasing artists, one that embraces storytelling – an important element of Indigenous cultures – and contributes to the reclaiming of voices and narratives.

It also takes full advantage of the potential of the digital sphere.

Giiwewizh (pronounced Gi-weh-wish) features original short documentaries directed by storyteller and media professional Sarain Fox that bring personal storytelling together with musical performances to highlight the connection between Indigenous artists and their home territories.

The artists include Beatrice Deer, Blue Moon Marquee, G.R. Gritt, Jay Gilday, Julian Taylor, Morgan Toney, Shawnee, Snotty Nose Rez Kids and The North Sound.

“We asked each creator to make their own personal short film from their homelands,” Sarain said in a news release. “We based the series on the word Giiwewizh (meaning ‘to carry home’). Through the lens of iPhone 12, each artist documented how they experience the land and how that informs their creation.”

The projects were produced by Jennifer Podemski’s Redcloud Studios.

“We all have been called to find stillness and return home over this last year, and I want to consider what we carry home with us. What are our relationships to place, land, and community?” said summit founder/organizer ShoShona Kish. “We knew we didn’t want to approach programming with a sense of limitation. We needed to see this moment as a unique opportunity to offer something beautiful; a celebration of creativity and resilience. These short films are a special invitation to travel home with these incredible artists. These storytellers show us the world with new eyes.”

Giiwewizh will premiere each night of the summit, which runs until Saturday. The full schedule is:

June 8: Hasaaatuk, Blue Moon Marquee, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Mamarudegyal MTHC.
June 9: Jay Gilday, The North Sound, Shawnee Kish, Classic Roots.
June 10: Aysanabee, Logan Staats, Nimkii, G.R. Gritt.
June 11: Julian Taylor, Kanen, Beatrice Deer, Morgan Toney.

In addition to Giiwewizh, the International Indigenous Music Summit features a broad cross-section of events, including a welcoming ceremony and virtual feast starting at 1 p.m. today, a keynote address by Jesse Wente, master classes on platforms such as Tik Tok and Apple Music, and panels and presentations on topics such as exploring the concept of copyright in relation to Indigenous cultural sovereignty and the act of safekeeping Indigenous art.

You can register for the summit here.



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