Aboriginal Country Music Hall of Fame to recognize local, grassroots musicians

SERPENT RIVER—The new Aboriginal Country Music Association and Hall of Fame will soon be holding induction ceremonies for Manitoulin Island at the M’Chigeeng First Nation.

“Our next induction ceremony will take place in M’Chigeeng,” said Roger Daybutch of the new organization, prior to an Aboriginal Country Music Hall of Fame event held in Serpent River First Nation this past Saturday. “In talking to various community groups, we have communities from North Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, including Manitoulin Island that we want to hold similar events in. Our window of opportunity takes in the period from now until June when the powwow season begins, so we are hoping to hold as many events as we can.”

The initial induction ceremonies into the Aboriginal Country Music Association Hall of Fame was held in Serpent River last Saturday. Along with entertainment provided by some of the best local country music entertainers in the business during the evening, several musicians were inducted into the association’s hall of fame. This past weekend’s association inductees included Taylor Armstrong of Mississauga First Nation, Rod and Terry Lantain of Serpent River First Nation, and the hall of fame inductee’s included Leo Day of Serpent River and Thomas Daybutch of the Mississauga First Nation.

Mr. Daybutch said, “this event is the first of its kind, where grassroots aboriginal individuals are recognized for their talents in country music and the mentoring of others. We will be hosting such events in other First Nation communities from Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay, including Manitoulin Island, and other First Nations within the Robinson-Huron treaty catchment area. These events will be a buildup to a grand finale, where all inductees will showcase their talents.”

“I’ve been in the music industry since I was a teenager,” said Mr. Daybutch. “There is so much musical talent in our First Nation communities. And many locals have advanced and moved up to different levels in the industry, but we are honouring and acknowledging the grassroots people who like to provide entertainment at a local level.”

“I had received a lot of input and requests from people in many communities about doing something like this event and I said we should look at what we can organize, looking at smaller communities,” said Mr. Daybutch.

“This is a first of its kind project, recognizing talented First Nation musicians in this way,” said Mr. Daybutch. “There are other awards established in the larger music industry, but our program is designed to recognize the talent and commitment of musicians who just like to perform locally and not move on in the industry.”

“If everything goes as we plan, there will be about three to four weeks between each induction ceremony in the various communities,” said Mr. Daybutch. “We don’t have all the details in place yet but I’m guessing the next show/induction will take place in about four weeks’ time in M’Chigeeng.”

“A delegation from M’Chigeeng attended Saturday’s show to give them a bird’s eye view of how it works,” continued Mr. Daybutch.

Mr. Daybutch said this type of hall of fame recognition for First Nation musicians “is long overdue. People have been saying there is so much talent among First Nations musicians but the grassroots local people tend to be overlooked. Established musicians have any amount of room to move forward in a career in music, but there are a lot of talented musicians that are not interested in going this route, they are more interested in playing just on a local level.”

“This is the first program like this, of its kind, in Canada, and it is something that is long overdue,” added Mr. Daybutch.

Tom Sasvari