4 Indigenous Musicians to Watch in 2012

What a year 2011 has been for Indigenous music! From new music by time-tested artists to surprising new splashes on the scene, here’s four artists we’re keeping our eye on as we move into the New Year. You’ll want to pay attention to these artists for great new things in 2012.

Ali Fontaine
From the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, Ali Fontaine is a 17-year old country artist, mentored by Indigenous music legend Errol Ranville. She made waves this year with her debut eponymous album and single Say it to Me. The track’s music video, a slick and colourful trip through New York city, was directed by Strongfront A/V Productions founder Jesse Green. Indeed, Ali has been quickly drawing the attention of big hitters and fans alike – she took home Best Country CD and Best New Artist at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards. With all of this under her belt before she’s even graduated high school, we know Ali is just getting started and look forward to what the young star will create next.

Here’s Say it to Me:

Hailing from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada, Beaatz is also a remarkable young artist who popped up on the scene in 2011. At 19, he’s proven to be a prolific emcee/producer this year, establishing off the bat a clean cut production style and sharp rap abilities.  That, putting New Brunswick on the map for Indigenous hip-hop, and being an innovator of style, are why we recommend you look out for Beaatz in 2012.

Here’s Never Lookin’ Back:

Cris Derksen
Classically trained but futuristically innovative, Cree cellist Cris Derksen has been a hardworking musician for a few years now. However, 2011 was surely a red letter year and a sign of Derksen’s trajectory. She was on tour most of 2011, including two European tours, as a solo artist and as a member of the Beat Nation Live Collective, the band Lightning Dust and the band E.S.L.; she released her first music video, her second – a First Tracks selection – will be released in the New Year;  the CBC documentary series The 8th Fire, due for release in January, features an original score compose by Derksen and her debut album, The Cusp, won Best Instrumental Album at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in Toronto. See what we mean? She’s surely in her element and on a roll.

Here’s 2 Hours Parking:

A Tribe Called Red
Who knew about these guys one year ago? In just one year, the electronic chiefs of the Electric Powwow have made huge leaps and bounds with an international touring schedule, mainstream press recognition and the pioneering of a new style of Indigenous electronic music “Powwow-step” that has taken the music world by storm. The trio of DJ NDN, Bear Witness and DJ Shub have been rocking dance floors at major festivals and parties as well as their own weekly nights in their hometown of Ottawa, Canada, and it’s been catching on like wildfire. We know it will continue to grow in 2012 and are excited to see what new artistic heights these three men reach.

Here’s Red Skin Girl:

Keep your eyes on RPM for the latest and greatest from these artists, and others in 2012.