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CKUA’s favourite artists share their favourite artists of 2021


Even though it was filled with ups and downs, 2021 has been another amazing year for music. In the week leading up to our Top 100 count down on Friday, Dec 31st, we will be featuring some of the year’s musical highlights from CKUA favourites Allison Russell, Maria Dunn, D’orjay the Singing Shaman, and Cadence Weapon.

Allison Russell

Monday, Dec 27 at 8:45am MT on Alberta Morning.

It was a banner year for Allison Russell, whose album Outside Child is sure to land on CKUA’s Top 100 Albums of 2021. The debut solo album recently earned Allison three Grammy Award nominations, including Americana Album of the Year. Recently, CKUA’s Tony King asked Allison Russell for her musical highlights from 2021. Hear their conversation from Monday’s Alberta Morning, when Allison shared music from Adia Victoria, Yasmine Williams, Joy Oladokun, and more.

Amethyst Kiah Wary + Strange
“I think it is just a really, really powerful piece of art, and a huge evolution for her as a songwriter. I just think it’s gorgeous.”

Adia Victoria A Southern Gothic 
“A brilliant record that I haven’t stopped listening to since it came out a few months ago. It really deserves a Grammy nod.”

Yasmin Williams Urban Driftwood
“This is a departure for me as I tend to gravitate more toward music that is lyric driven, and poetry driven. But Yasmin Williams is a guitarist, a very lyrical guitarist, a very original guitarist.  There’s nobody that sounds like her or plays like her, but her compositions are so evocative and beautiful. I have found myself returning to her record over and over again.”

Joy Oladokun In Defense of My Own Happiness 
“A stunningly beautiful record. I’ve been listening to that pretty obsessively as well.”

And the podcast pick: Call & Response hosted by Adia Victoria
“It is just a brilliant, brilliant podcast, very much rooted in the blues. And she’s had on some incredible people like Brittney Howard, Kumasi Washington, Brandi Carlie, and Rhiannon Giddens…She writes these letters to each person she interviews, and they are poetry, and there’s a depth and emotional resonance to what she’s doing.”

Maria Dunn

Tuesday, Dec 28 at 5:45pm MT on Traffic Jams.

Maria Dunn spends a fair share of her time listening to CKUA, and CKUA audiences spent a lot of time hearing her album Joyful Banner Blazing on these airwaves in 2021. Tuesday, Dec 28 at 5:45 PM (MT) on Traffic Jams, Maria Dunn shared a few of her year-end musical highlights, including music from fellow CKUA mainstay Julian Taylor.

Allison Russell Outside Child
“An absolutely brilliant work. I get teary eyed trying to talk about it…She talks about the abuse that she suffered as a child, and the racism that she’s experienced in a very direct way, but also in a very poetic way.”

Julian Taylor “100 Proof” (single)
“That one stopped me in my tracks. A month ago, Tom Coxworth played that on Folk Routes on Sunday morning…that song I just think is beautiful in its simplicity of telling this huge life story in very broad strokes but brilliantly in a way that draws the listener in…I thought that was an absolutely beautiful thought and musical expression for the whole year and a half…Just that kindness is 100 Proof. That a person can live their whole life, but keep coming back to that idea of that being the important thing.”

D’orjay the Singing Shaman

Wednesday, Dec 29 at 8:45am MT on Alberta Morning.

This year, Alberta’s own D’orjay The Singing Shaman won over CKUA listeners with her 2021 debut, New Kind of Outlaw. Her music also caught the attention of Valerie June, whom she name-drops in the album’s title track. If you tune in on New Year’s Eve, you’ll likely hear D’orjay’s album mentioned among the Top 100 most-played of the year. Wednesday, Dec 29th at 8:45 AM (MT) on Alberta Morning, D’orjay joined us to talk about her favourite releases of 2021, including music from Valerie June, Amythyst Kiah, and Yola.

Valerie June The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers
“Her most recent album was just unreal. She also included spoken word in the album as well, and some meditative tracks, which is right up my alley.”

Allison Russell Outside Child
“Allison Russell’s Outside Child should be on everyone’s top list for this year. Just an incredible piece of art that she was able to put out into the world.”

Yola Stand for Myself
“I think she is just continuing to come into her own as an artist. I think the lyrical content that she offered…”Diamond Studded Shoes” was such a great track. Even though it was kind of this up-tempo soulful vibe it really was speaking to these capitalistic wonders and billionaires…Shout out to the black femmes that were creating such good music this year.”

Cadence Weapon

Thursday, Dec 30 at 5:45pm MT on Traffic Jams.

Cadence Weapon’s album Parallel World took home this year’s Polaris Music Prize last September – it’s been a banner year for the YEG-born rapper. As 2021 draws to a close, CKUA’s Grant Stovel sat down with Cadence Weapon, aka Rollie Pemberton, to discuss his Polaris win, and albums by Loraine James, Isaiah Rashad and Vince Staples. Here’s their conversation:

Loraine James Reflection 
“Such an interesting electronic record. She does some vocals on it too, but it’s mainly just abstract electronic music. It’s hard to describe because I’ve never heard anything quite like it…one of my favourite songs from it has a really great title. It’s called “Self-Doubt (Leaving the Club Early)”

Isaiah Rashad The House Is Burning 
“He’s on the same label as Kendrick Lamar. He’s not quite the same as Kendrick. I find that he’s really more subtle…He’s from the south and he references all of these different eras of southern rap…It’s very referential, but I’ve never heard anything that quite sounds like his music. He makes ‘chill bangers’…they’re not super hype songs but his attitude and approach to it gets you really excited. I love that kind of dichotomy in rap.”

Vince Staples Vince Staples
“Everyone needs to check out this record because it’s so good. It’s all produced by Kenny Beats…It’s really economical. Not a lot of songs. He’s a rapper from the West Coast. He’s from north side Long Beach, California. He raps about his street background, but also society at large in this way that very clever.”