Mariame // Pop R&B Singer
Powerhouse vocals and an electric stage presence aren’t the only things to set apart 25 year old singer
Mariame Hasni. Mariame is of Cree (First Nations) heritage, and sings of the joys and challenges she faces (on tracks like “Native,” that incorporates First Nations sounds into the mix). Dubbed the “Cree Rihanna” by the Quebec Cree communities of James Bay, Mariame has been touring the communities of the territory since she was 13. On May 26, 2016, the single mother of two took her musical career to the next level by releasing her first album, Bloom.
Mariame is the first artist signed to brand new label, N’we Jinan. What started as a music education program within the Cree communities, N’we Jinan is now a partnership between founder/music educator David Hodges, and Joshua Iserhoff, the Youth Grand Chief of the Cree Natiion Youth Council and the Cree Native Arts & Crafts Association (CNACA). Mariame first came to their attention as part of this program, and won the organization’s Rising Star award in 2013. “You are born with something that separates you from the rest. When I first heard Mariame, she had that,” says Hodges. It is Hodges hope that with the release of Bloom, N’we Jinan can be a part of a bigger picture goal to develop the arts in the Cree communities.” I believe there is so much room for career development and sustainability for the arts in the First Nation communities.” Releasing Bloom is more than a business endeavor for Mariame as well, “it means so much to me for my kids to look up to me and to see me strive for what I love.” With deeply personal and inspirational lyrics Mariame has turned adversity into artistry and in many ways her exciting journey has only just begun.
The NorthStars // Hip-Hop Group
The NorthStars are a dynamic hiphop music group composed of Gary Jolly, Elton J. Salt and Keith Lacroix hailing from Nemaska Cree First Nation. The group was born from the release of their first single “Our River”, a highly emotionally charged song about the Rupert River hydroelectric diversion project. The single brought The NorthStars to the front of the Cree Nation music scene. This catapulted them as the premiere hiphop music group of 2012 within their respective communities.
Gary Jolly has been into music since 2008. His earliest productions were used by local artists and film producers. By 2010, he was creating music production tracks for hiphop artists hailing from Toronto to as far Belgium. It wasn’t long until he was known as the premiere producer for hiphop music in the Cree Nation. As a seasoned producer, he developed tracks for DR Clique, a hiphop group from Hereford Midlands. He produced their first break out song “Only Gets Better” which gave rise to the success of DR Clique and their music video was featured on MTV.
Elton J. Salt interest in music first started at the age of 3, singing and playing guitar with his grandfather in Waskaganish, Quebec. After moving to Nemaska at the age 5 with his mom, Elton discovered his talent with his friends by singing songs while just joking around and having fun. He then started singing cover songs during local events but it was his creativity that brought him the idea of doing a song about the Rupert River.
One day while watching “One More River”, a Cree documentary about the controversial “Paix des braves” agreement which gave Cree consent to the Rupert river hydroelectric project, Elton had the idea of making a hip hop music track about how he felt about the agreement. Together with one of Gary’s music tracks they began putting together what would soon be their first single “Our River” which they dedicated to the late Robert Weistche. The song can only be described as “Powerful”. Often bringing tears to its listeners and leaving them with a strong sense of pride.
After producing their first song they had to decide on a name for their group. They knew the stars have always been there to help their elders find they way at night and have always been a symbol for all cultures of guiding the way. Rhyspectz, a hiphop artist from Toronto, is quoted saying “The NorthStar is gonna get his chance to shine” in one of his songs that was produced by Gary. They wanted to have people to turn to the music if they ever feel lost. That their music will be always there to reminds us where we come from and the rest as they say is history.
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