13 Red River Métis musicians you should be listening to this summer

June 23, 2023

"My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back." - Louis Riel 

To listen to our Red River Métis Summer Playlist, click here

The Red River Métis are widely recognized for our vibrant, enthusiastic, and celebratory spirit. Our love of music and dancing is evident in our traditional musical styles. Red River Métis artists take pride in highlighting their cultural identity through their performances, regardless of the musical genre.

We have curated a summer playlist featuring 13 exceptional Red River Métis musicians whose music reflects and celebrates their proud Métis heritage. Listen to the playlist below.

  1. Andrina Turenne

Singer-songwriter Andrina Turenne finds inspiration from her Red River Métis roots
and incorporates it into her music with passion.

Andrina Turenne is a talented singer-songwriter from Winnipeg who began her full-time music career following her first year of university. She characterizes her musical style as "roots," a genre that draws influences from rock, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, and folk genres.

Turenne's lifelong love for singing is evident, as she cherishes memories of gathering with friends and family for backyard music sessions around the campfire. Her exceptional musical talent is attributed to the guidance of her Métis mentors who have encouraged her to foster her artistic abilities.

The singer-songwriter, whose affinity for her Red River Métis heritage has been a constant throughout her life, takes inspiration from the stories that have been handed down to her. Her composition, "Tourtes Printanières," was prompted by a passage read in Métis storyteller Louis Goulet's memoir, L'espace de Louis Goulet. Specifically, the song centres on a paragraph in the memoir detailing the extinction of passenger pigeons in the late 1800s.

Turenne released her latest album Bold as Logs this April, which can be found on all streaming platforms. The album is also available for purchase on Bandcamp, with physical copies at Into the Music in Winnipeg's Exchange District. 

The talented artist has been confirmed to be a part of the lineup for both the Winnipeg Folk Festival and Canmore Folk Festival this year, with additional tour dates expected to be unveiled in the coming months.

  1. Brandi Vezina

Brandi Vezina comes from a family of accomplished Red River Métis musicians
who have inspired her to be the successful artist we see today.

Brandi Vezina, a singer-songwriter hailing from Winnipeg, boasts a dynamic musical style that seamlessly blends classic country and rock with her outlaw roots. Coming from a musically inclined family, she has a natural talent for entertaining and consistently delivers an engaging live performance.

After completing her post-secondary education, Vezina fully devoted herself to pursuing music and expanding her knowledge of the industry. In addition to her flourishing music career, she also dedicates her time as a part-time educator and serves on the board of directors for the Infinity Women Secretariat Southeast Region.

Her deep-rooted Red River Métis heritage is evident in her timeless country sound, the compositions she creates, and her rapport with her audience. The most recent track she released, "Dodged a Bullet," highlights the vocals of her grandmother, Red River Métis vocalist and Elder Marcella Vezina.

The country-rock artist is currently in the final stages of producing her much-awaited LP. She has collaborated with top-notch musicians and producers such as Styles Haury, Scott Nolan, Liz Christensen, and Sarah Elliot, to create an album that will surely impress her fans. This summer, Vezina plans to travel to Nashville, Tennessee to finalize the album's recording.

Canadian Country Music Association award-winning producer Murray Pulver has produced "Kiss Mine," Vezina's upcoming single scheduled for release this July.

Aside from upcoming recording sessions, Vezina is set to grace several events during the summer season, some of which include the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Hollow Water's Treaty Days, and Dauphin's Countryfest.

  1. Doc and Marcella Vezina

Doc and Marcella Vezina are accomplished Red River Métis musicians, performing together for over six decades.

Doc and Elder Marcella Vezina are distinguished Red River Métis Citizens and accomplished musicians. Their passion for music has enriched their family life, with Marcella and Doc entertaining their loved ones for over six decades with their guitar and vocal skills. Their musical heritage has been passed on to their children from their very own kitchen table.

Marcella's musical talents were evident from a young age. In 1954, she graced the Dominion Theatre's stage with her melodious voice on the "Western Hour." Her exceptional performance as the "Queen of the Saddle" led to her winning the title for five consecutive weeks.

Marcella made a record of the songs "Tennessee Song" and "Welcome Home Honey" in 1974, which sold 2,000 copies. The label MCA Canada exhibited a keen interest in Marcella's music, but she decided to prioritize her familial responsibilities over pursuing a career as a professional recording artist.

During Doc's formative years, music was an integral part of his upbringing. At his childhood home, his parents would rearrange the furniture to make way for lively square dances with friends and family. Doc's musical aptitude was further cultivated through regular participation in singing at church and Sunday school.

Driven by his family's passion for music and dance, Doc refurbished an abandoned log house, utilizing it as a venue to host dance events and fundraise for the Stony Point Royals hockey team.

During his late teenage years, Doc began singing alongside his brother, Eric, and covered songs by the popular bands the Everly Brothers and the Louvin Brothers.

It was at the age of 19 that he discovered his fondness for the music of celebrated country icon Johnny Cash, and observed that his bass sound was strikingly like that of the singer. Over time, he has delivered impressive renditions of Johnny Cash's hits, earning him the moniker "Johnny Cash" by President David Chartrand himself.

In 1994, Marcella founded the band, Why Knott, alongside her family members Beryle, Fern, Tommy, Bryan, Terry Malmquist, Yvonne, and Holly. As a band, they have successfully performed at numerous events, venues, and music festivals.

After retiring, Doc became a member of Why Knott alongside his wife in the early 2000s. He also contributed to the band's achievement in recording a gospel album.

Doc and Marcella have produced five albums that showcase their own compositions and cover tracks. Their music is accessible on YouTube, where they can be seen performing in the kitchen that inspired many other family members to pursue their musical journeys.

  1. Eric Lavoie

Red River Métis musician Eric Lavoie is aiming to refine his craft
and produce music that truly represents who he is as an artist.

Eric Lavoie, a talented Red River Métis musician, was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Previously released under the name "Cosmic River," his music showcases a unique blend of country, blues, and folk genres. Lavoie's musical process has incorporated a mixture of finger and chordal guitar techniques, with a recurring bass line, resulting in original and captivating musical compositions.

The musician has integrated his Red River Métis culture into his artistry, providing him with a deeper understanding and appreciation for his cultural identity. Not only has his background influenced his artistry as a vocalist and songwriter, but it has assisted in building connections within the Red River Métis music community.

Lavoie has released four singles in the past year, the most recent being his song "You're Better Off in Paris."

He is currently in the process of writing new songs for his self-titled debut EP that will be recorded this fall. His upcoming songs will reveal insights on Red River Métis history and highlight the current social challenges Indigenous communities are experiencing today.

On June 24, Lavoie will perform at Assiniboine Park in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

  1. Holly Vee

Holly Vee is a talented Red River Métis musician. Her music is deeply rooted in her Métis heritage,
writing songs that truly capture the spirit of her upbringing.

Holly Vezina, known by her stage name Holly Vee, is a Red River Métis singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, Manitoba. During her formative years, her family relocated to her father's hometown of Stony Point, Manitoba.

Throughout her childhood, music played a significant role in her family environment. She fondly recalls participating in musical gatherings and performances with her family, such as singing together at the kitchen table and performing as a family at church.

The household overflowed with various instrumentalists, vocalists, and performers, including fiddlers and guitarists. Vee was inspired by her musical family to pursue her own musical abilities and follow in their footsteps.

Vee was brought up in a conventional Métis household, which played a significant role in shaping her career as a performer. The lyrics of her song, "Settler's Granddaughter," were crafted at the very same family kitchen table around which she used to sing as a child. The song accurately represents her family's roots, which can be traced back to the mid-19th century. "Settler's Granddaughter" is a true depiction of the journey her family has undergone to get to where they are today.

Over the years, Vee has graced the stage of many Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) events and festivals, earning the unwavering support of the National Government of the Red River Métis. Her family also contributed to The Beat Goes On event in April 2020, spreading the spirit of Métis music to all during the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mother of three takes great pride in having instilled a deep appreciation for music in all her children. As a result, two of them, Brandi Vezina and Jesse Bandura, have established themselves as successful singer-songwriters.

  1. Jesse Bandura

Talented country singer Jesse Bandura keeps his family's musical tradition alive,
singing with passion and a deep connection to his roots.

Jesse Bandura, a talented Red River Métis musician specializing in country-rock, has been showcasing his artistry from a young age. At the age of 14, Bandura picked up the guitar, and his passion for music only grew stronger from there. He later learned to play the bass guitar and honed his talents by performing as the bassist in his grandparents' family band, Why Knott.

Following his time with Why Knott, Bandura joined his father's band, Sonny & the Hurricanes, touring with the group over the course of four years.

The country-rock singer is continuing his family's musical legacy by leading his own band, "Jesse Bandura Band," performing at a wide range of venues and festivals.

In 2016, Bandura launched an EP that gained notable recognition for one of its tracks, "On the Run," which received airplay on both the Indigenous Music Countdown and SiriusXM radio.

After Bandura's EP, his 2019 single, "Good Time," topped the chart for two consecutive weeks on the Indigenous Music Countdown. It was also showcased on two distinct Apple Music playlists, Indigenous Now and Indigenous Peoples Day Music.

Bandura's fresh country sound is set to excite fans with his latest single release scheduled for late June of this year.

  1. Kris Paul

Kris Paul has always had a passion for music, with his family and friends cheering him on every step of the way.

Kris Paul is a singer-songwriter from the Métis community of San Clara, Manitoba. As an artist, Paul creates music that touches on themes of love, loss, and perseverance, bringing his personal experiences to his musical storytelling.

Music has always had a great influence on Paul's life. Throughout his childhood he devoted significant time to practicing on his grandparents' instruments and collaborating with childhood friends to write original songs.

Paul's passion for music was ignited by his grandfather's encouragement to showcase his talent in public. When presented with the chance to perform live, his enthusiasm for music only grew stronger.

The artist has always found comfort and clarity in music, helping him embrace his Métis identity during a time it wasn't widely accepted. Today, the musician is proud to represent his heritage in his music. He hopes to release an album one day that reflects on growing up in a Métis village.

Throughout his career, Paul has had incredible success with his music, notably the chart-topping track, "Make it Through," which secured the top spot on the Indigenous Music Countdown.

Paul is committed to creating music that resonates with Métis communities and hopes to record a studio album soon, bringing a sound that differs from his classic acoustic stylings.

  1. Martin Desjarlais

Red River Métis country musician Martin Desjarlais released his new single, "My Girl," on June 1 of this year.

Martin Desjarlais, a Red River Métis country musician from Winnipeg, has roots in the thriving Métis community of St. Laurent, Manitoba. Growing up in a family of musicians, he was immersed in the world of music from a young age and has since made it a fundamental aspect of his life.

Desjarlais began his musical journey at the age of 12, when he took an interest in playing the drums. Later, at the age of 15, he expanded his repertoire by learning to play the guitar.

Recognizing the similarities between the uncomplicated lifestyle often depicted in country music and the musical styles that were prevalent during his formative years, Desjarlais' approach to music truly showcases his Red River Métis identity.

Available on all streaming platforms, his first single, "My Girl," was released on June 1 of this year. Desjarlais is currently in the process of getting his new track on the Indigenous Music Countdown and picked up on SiriusXM radio.

The country singer has a very busy summer ahead, playing a variety of events and festivals. You can see him perform at Hill Top Resort on June 24, Sakihiwe Festival on June 25, and Dauphin's Countryfest on July 1.

  1. MJ Dandeneau

MJ Dandeneau is a highly skilled Red River Métis composer, director, producer, and bassist.

MJ Dandeneau is a French Métis/Anishinaabe kwe. Her mother's family comes from the Red River Valley in southern Manitoba and her father's family comes from Penetanguishene, Treaty 61. She is an accomplished bassist, composer, director, and producer.

For the past 20 years, Dandeneau has worked through her business, MJ Entertainment Canada, touring worldwide with various artists. Her diverse skill set and versatility have allowed her to work globally across all genres of music. Her creativity has been recognized through recording awards like the Canadian JUNO, Western Canada's Music Industry Awards, and Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Apart from her involvement in the music industry, Dandeneau devotes herself to aiding and encouraging Indigenous musicians in achieving their professional aspirations. She upholds principles instilled in her by her Métis Elders, which inspire her to further impart these teachings to the youth under her mentorship.

This summer, she is scheduled to showcase her talents in several festivals alongside other esteemed artists.

Her highly anticipated album, slated for release this fall, will feature gifted Métis artists from across the country. Inspired by her own Red River Métis heritage, the album represents a unique musical style, with has the potential to further revitalize Métis fiddling traditions and culture, serving as an inspiration for future generations.

  1. Morgan Grace

Morgan Grace, a 16-year-old left-handed fiddler, is set to showcase her skills
in multiple events and festivals throughout Canada this summer.

Morgan Ginther, professionally known as Morgan Grace, is a talented 16-year-old musician from East Selkirk, Manitoba who is distinguished by her flair for playing the fiddle with her left hand.

Growing up in a musical family, her interest in the instrument was inspired by family friend and fiddle player Glen Hewgill.

Beginning her musical journey at the age of three, Grace's fondness for traditional Métis fiddle music has enabled her to channel her heritage and showcase a unique musical identity that is characterized by deep-seated respect for her Red River Métis roots.

May 2022 marked the release of Grace's self-titled debut album, produced by the accomplished Tom Dutiaume. That same year, she had the honour of opening for JUNO award-winner William Prince at the Burton Cummings Theatre.

Often a staple at MMF events, Grace is set to make her debut performance at Dauphin's Countryfest this summer. Following the festival, she will be travelling to Halifax to showcase her talents at the North American Indigenous Games.

Grace has plans to release a new album soon and aims to showcase her creative abilities by composing her own fiddle tunes at some point down the road.

  1. Patti Kusturok - mmf.mb.ca/citizen-spotlight/patti-kusturok

Patti Kusturok is an award-winning fiddler and recording artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Patti Kusturok, a distinguished fiddler and recording artist hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, commenced her musical journey at the age of four by taking up the classical violin method - Suzuki Method.

However, wanting to explore beyond the confines of classical music, Kusturok dedicated herself to mastering the art of traditional Métis fiddle music. The success story that followed is a testament to her unwavering commitment to her craft.

Renowned for her impeccable talent in performing timeless Canadian fiddle music, she is consistently sought after for her expertise in various aspects of the music industry including live performances, music education, recording, and adjudicating fiddle competitions throughout Canada.

Kusturok's extensive list of accolades is a testament to her exceptional skill and talent in the world of fiddling. She has been inducted into both the Manitoba Fiddle Association Wall of Fame and the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame and has received various awards from the Manitoba Association of Country Arts (now the Manitoba Country Music Association).

The Red River Métis fiddler's impressive record also includes three championship wins at the renowned Pembroke, Ontario competitions, six Manitoba championship titles, three Grand North American championship titles from 1994-1996, and the esteemed Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship, where she made history by becoming the first woman in Canada to achieve this title. She was also the first person from Western Canada to attain the crown.

Aside from her renowned background in the world of fiddling, Kusturok boasts a prolific discography of more than 15 albums and has graced numerous stages across the globe.

She actively engages in various MMF events, previously showcasing her talents in The Beat Goes On and taking the stage at the Annual General Assembly.

  1. Tom Racine

Tom Racine, a country-folk singer from the Turtle Mountain Local, draws upon his
childhood experiences in the Red River Métis Homeland as a major influence for his music.

Tom Racine is a talented Red River Métis country-folk singer from the Turtle Mountain Local. His passion for music was evident from a young age, where he has been honing his skills since his junior high years. He later showcased his talents as a member of the SK Express band during his high school career.

Having established a comfortable life at his La Salle homestead, Racine embarked on the creation of his debut album, Three Mile Junction, releasing it in 2010. Notably, his efforts earned him a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year that same year.

Racine collaborated with Manitoba Music to create a remarkable album consisting of 11 beautifully crafted songs. The lyrics of the songs struck a chord with the audience, exploring a range of themes including the challenges of growing up without a father, the joy of familial relationships, and uplifting tunes with comedic elements intended to engage and inspire young listeners.

The Red River Métis musician created his album in hopes to reflect his cultural heritage. He enlisted the expertise of the late Clint Dutiaume, a renowned Métis fiddle player. With Dutiaume's fiddle and guitar skills, the album achieved a unique sound that blended Racine's artistic style with an unmistakable Métis rhythm.

His most recognized composition, "Turtle Mountain Sunshine," was conceived during a family gathering in honour of his grandfather. The song has since been featured on CBC Radio and has remained a beloved family campfire anthem.

Racine continues to write music in his spare time and hopes to release a second album in the future. He credits his success to his loving wife Donna and the support of his friends and family, who continue to encourage him to pursue his music.

  1. Victoria Turko

Singer-songwriter Victoria Turko has written over 60 original songs
while establishing a successful acting career for herself.

Victoria Turko, a talented singer-songwriter based in Winnipeg, has proudly embraced her Red River Métis heritage since childhood. Her deep connection with music has served as a meaningful journey, allowing her to foster a greater sense of belonging within her community.

As a young performer, she has gained immense appreciation and respect for her cultural identity. Her musical abilities are credited to her Métis family and their mutual passion for music. Turko's interest in songwriting began at a young age, even before she could play an instrument. At the age of 13, her grandmother gifted her with a guitar, which propelled her love for the craft to new heights.

Turko has consistently recorded and released music while maintaining a busy schedule of live performances. Invitations to showcase her talent have also come her way, including a noteworthy invite in 2022 by MLA Nahanni Fontaine to perform some of her original compositions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Turko is dedicated to creating an extensive library of music and is currently working to record and release as much original content as possible, boasting a collection of over 60 songs to date.

The artistic skills of the young musician extend beyond music, as evidenced by her prominent role alongside industry icons Jann Arden and Robb Wells in the action-comedy film Vandits. She has also demonstrated her versatility on the small screen with notable appearances in television shows Burden of Truth and Acting Good.

Visit here www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQh2MwNjojI_Jr5MVKsVUQNlker6vODQt to listen to the Red River Métis Summer Playlist.


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