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Aysanabee: Where Do We Go From Here?

Hidden Track Podcast

“What’s your name?”  

On the stunning debut album by Oji-Cree singer-songwriter Aysanabee, we hear his grandfather pose that question at the end of the song “Nomads“. It is a voice that is woven through the entire album; and so is that fundamental idea of reconnecting with identity and truth.

Aysanabee’s much-acclaimed November 2022 release Watin tells the story of his grandfather, Watin Aysanabee, who, as a child, was taken away from his family and sent to McIntosh Residential School in Northwestern Ontario, where he was forced to change his name and put aside his language, culture, and traditions. After many painful years, not only did Watin survive his traumatic residential school experiences, but he also met his eventual life partner; together they began a new life and a family of their own. Watin’s story is a powerful one and now, more than half a century later, it has inspired a stunning work of art.

In this gracious and candid visit, Aysanabee also shared some of his own amazing life’s journey: growing up in Northern Ontario and Manitoba; humble musical beginnings and diverse early influences; being a soft-spoken person who’s blessed with an absolutely thunderous singing voice; working these days with Ishkōdé Records, a visionary new label led by renowned Indigenous women; finding himself suddenly thrust onto the biggest stage in this country, performing for the 2023 Juno Awards gala telecast; and the unique path that led to the creation of his breathtaking, triumphant debut album.

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