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RBC Emerging Artists Program

Emerging Artist Mentorship and Showcase

10 emerging musicians will be selected to learn from music professionals MJ Dandeneau, Grace Hrabi and Alex Sannie about showcasing & touring, and record a live showcase opportunity presented to 20+ presenters (buyers).

Watch the RBC Artists Safe at Home Festival Performance here.
Listen to the RBC Emerging Artist Mentorship Alumni Spotify Playlist here

Meet this Year’s Mentees:

Ethan Lyric is an 18-year-old indigenous musician and songwriter out of Winnipeg, MB. He is an up-and-coming artist who has begun to grow a following of young and old music lovers alike. Growing up he was surrounded by music such as country and jazz. These early influences would come together to build his smooth blend of folk, country, and pop, although it was not until high school where he would discover his love for songwriting. His endearing yet simple melodies will be sure to have you humming along in no time.

Ivy Venin is an indigenous singer-songwriter from Lake St. Martin. Though she was born and is currently living in Winnipeg, she hasn’t always.

Growing up in a military family, she lived in 4 different cities, in 3 different provinces throughout her school years. She left Winnipeg after grade 2, and moved back at the start of high school; that’s where she met a guy who played guitar. He taught her how to play some chords, and she instantly fell in love. With the guitar, of course.

She went out and got one of her own, and within a year or two, she was writing original music and evolving her own unique style, where Ivy and producer Aaron Peters are currently in the studio working on her first EP. It will have 7 songs, and should be ready for release by the end of this year.

Growing up in the middle of Saskatchewan as an Indigenous male who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community made for an interesting upbringing for LJ Tyson. LJ chose not to see the difference between him and his surroundings as a negative but rather a positive. Growing up in a music scene rooted in country music helped him connect to others through the storytelling in his writing. Visiting many genres throughout his career, LJ has always come back to country music and has included the different genres to his sound. Audiences know that an LJ Tyson show will be high energy and filled with wonderful storytelling and performance.

Darryl Buck is a prominent indigenous singer songwriter from Opaskwayak Cree Nation renowned for round dance and 2018 Best Hand Drum Album nominee at The Indigenous Music Awards. Music has allowed him to connect to land, language and ceremony. Through his music his belief is that everyone has song inside of them if only they listen. Music can be medicine that will help you find your own song.

Yung Gio is a melodic hip-hop artist and singer who likes to make people dance with his upbeat music. Born in the Congo and raised in the heart of Winnipeg, Gio is stepping on the scene with the intent to spread positivity and meaningful, story-driven songs while simultaneously delivering world-class production to a growing fanbase eager to hear more of the artist’s inspiring and refreshing work.

Gio not only wants to touch people with his music but he wants listeners to get involved too by using his catchy lyrics and beats as the foundation for TikTok videos that will help spread the positive message of his music.

My name is Farrah Dixon. I am 19 years old. I am from Norway House, Manitoba. I am a second year University student at University College of the North pursuing a Bachelor of Art Degree. I am also the first of 4 other siblings to attend University.

Music has always been a huge part of my life alongside my education. For me, music and school were my escapes physically and emotionally.

I am very grateful for the opportunities I have been presented with. I aspire to be a leader and inspire others along their paths.

Aurora Bella is a singer/songwriter currently based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. She performs solo as a singer-songwriter on piano, acoustic and electric guitar, and ukulele. Aurora is a charismatic performer who comes naturally to the stage. Her songs incorporate her love of storytelling, mythology, folktales, and literature with personal stories, sly humour and thoughtful reflections on deeper themes. Her dynamic groove, tasty hooks and distinct vocal style create songs that are complex, catchy, lovely and intense. Her original tunes come from an indie/folk/rock foundation that can be compared to artists like Hozier, Feist, and Regina Spektor.

The Environmental Musician (Emily Thoroski) is a Canadian singer-songwriter & wildlife biologist that is passionate about using music to inspire people to get involved in environmental conservation. She is a graduate student at the University of Manitoba working on completing her Master of Environment degree with a focus on environmental communications. Emily received the 2020 Conservation Education Award through The Wildlife Society for her song “We Decide” and her short film “Why Do Wildlife Matter?” Emily also goes by her artistic name, The Environmental Musician. She welcomes you to join in her adventure of helping to conserve and protect the planet and its resources!

Canadian born singer-songwriter and poet Laura Lucas rediscovered her passion for songwriting while spending a year living in Melbourne, Australia in 2019. After years of writing songs for no one but herself to hear, Laura decided on a whim to record some of them with producer Garrett Kato in his Byron Bay studio. From these recordings came Laura’s debut single “Poetry” in 2019, as well as “Big Questions” and “Moon Dream.”

As a poet herself, Laura is inspired by thoughtful lyricists such as Leonard Cohen and Lana Del Rey. Laura’s poetry has appeared in multiple online and print publications, such as Press 53, Iris Literary Journal, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, and elsewhere.

Laura’s debut EP, recorded entirely remotely between Canada and Australia with Garrett Kato, will be released in 2022.

As a solo artist, singer-songwriter Jared Adams might be a new name to many, but his signature ‘heavy folk’ sound certainly isn’t — it’s something that was developed and honed over years of hard work in Winnipeg’s music scene.

Although Adams began performing with a wide range of projects in 2006, it wasn’t until 2013 that he first began to draw attention as co-frontman of Colour by Numbers — Winnipeg’s self-professed ‘nerdiest alt-rock band’.

Kicking off in 2019 with a performance at the iconic Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Adams’ solo venture culminated a year later with the release of Tragic Nostalgia, an eclectic and unexpected mix of alt-rock, self-reflective folk, and layered, bombastic pop hooks. You can hear Tragic Nostalgia at and on all streaming services.

Meet the Mentors for 2021

Grace Hrabi is a singer-songwriter and teacher with a Bachelor’s degree in vocal jazz performance from the University of Manitoba. She is an independent, self-booking artist who performs in Winnipeg and tours across Canada with the folk trio Casati. The trio has recorded, produced and self-released three full-length albums since 2014. Grace teaches voice, ukulele, songwriting & musical theatre through the Winnipeg Conservatory of Music

Alex Sannie is an accomplished and award-winning music producer, performer, and presenter with 20 years of experience creating music. He’s most well known as the producer and member of the hip hop group “The Lytics”. Performing all over the world; The Lytics have played major music festivals and countless concerts. As the producer of The Lytics, his music has been featured in major Hollywood films, television shows, and ad campaigns. Along with the other members of the group; Alex has worked in the studio or shared the stage with industry heavyweights like Nas, Jurassic 5, Sam Kuti, Childish Gambino, A Tribe Called Red, Shad, Kevin Hearn (of The Bare naked ladies) and Mike D of the Beastie Boys.

Alex loves opportunities to connect with other artists and learn from them while still offering his unique point of view in discussions.

MJ Dandeneau is a Métis woman of French and Anishinaabe descent from the Red River Nation. Her mother comes from the Métis Red River Valley (île-à-la-Crosse Nation) and her father comes from Penetanguishene, Treaty 61. She is an accomplished bassist, director and producer. Through her business, MJ Entertainment Canada Inc, she has worked and toured with various artists worldwide for the past 16 years. Nationally recognized with recording awards such as JUNO, WCMA, CFM she has recently been awarded the Indigenous Full Circle Award, one of the Manitoba Arts Council prestige prizes in the Arts. 

MJ’s extensive music career includes booking agent for Europe and Australia, Artistic & Musical Director for various bands and artists, industry board member and funding assessor for Canada Art Council, Factor, Juno, WCMA Awards, CFM Awards, MusicAction and Manitoba Art Council. She has assisted artists in music career development and serves as a connecting point into the international touring arena.  MJ has also had the opportunity to expand her musical reach by taking on roles as a Compose for musical theatres such as Royal MTC, MTYP, Prairie Theatre, Sarasvati Theatre and Theatre and Cercle Molière. MJ’s key focus and passion are supporting and empowering indigenous artists in successfully navigating the national and international market.  

Emerging Artist Mentorship and Showcase 2021

Participants will have the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with some fabulous mentors and learn many of the skills needed to further your growth as musicians (becoming future 🤩stars). This program is FREE (valued at $1000 per participant – lucky you) for musicians, in the early stages of their career, that have never showcased before. This program will help musicians get ready for professional provincial, national & international showcasing and touring starting right here in Manitoba

The training takes place online in a group setting. In addition, each participant will also receive 3 hours of one on one training/meetings with a mentor for some good quality fun.

A program offered by the Manitoba Arts Network, supported by Manitoba Music’s Indigenous Music Development Program.

During the mentorship musicians will learn about:

  • The ins and outs of showcase applications
  • How to showcase & network
  • Preparing for your Showcase recording (includes mock showcase performance)
  • Marketing, branding and creating Electronic Press Kits (EPKs)
  • Planning and booking shows
  • Contract negotiations, tech info sheet & pricing
  • Finding & building an audience
  • Funding & sponsors
  • Touring on the road & digitally

What do we mean by mentorship?
Through this program, you will be given guidance and direction provided by a mentor (an experienced professional from the music industry). The mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources with scheduled meetings either in person or virtually.

What do we mean by Showcasing and Touring?
Touring is an industry valued at over 4 million in Canada. There are networks in each province across Canada that produce an annual conference that showcase multidisciplinary artists. A showcase is on stage with full lighting and sound in front of an audience of presenters/buyers. The artist sings for 15-20 minutes which gives the presenters/buyers an idea of what they would be buying.

Following a showcase there is opportunity to speak directly to the buyers who just watched their showcase and the artist tries to sell their show. Following the conference, within each province 100’s of performances are booked as a direct result of these showcases. Presenters/buyers offer full negotiated artist fees for shows which can range from $500 (emerging artist) – $3000 (mid-level career) per show depending on size of venue and size of the band.

Touring is when an artist or band wants to get their show booked for a tour of consecutive show dates within a given province (a tour could consist of 3-10 performances scheduled consecutively all in different communities). In some provinces such as Manitoba the Manitoba Arts Network acts as a liaison between the artist and communities/presenters/buyers to coordinate or block book the tour dates and negotiate contracts).

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Brereton, Program Coordinator

RBC Emerging Artists Program