Indigenous music artists honoured at inaugural awards show
- Kerry Benjoe | November 15, 2023
It was a memorable evening at the first-ever Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Awards in Prince Albert for a multi-talented musician from La Ronge.
“It was amazing,” said Nigel Bell also known as Nige B the day after the awards. “It was a great honour to be a part of the first award show.”
Bell, 33, said he was overwhelmed, shocked, and honoured with his double win because he went to the show with no expectations.
“It was powerful being in a room full of other Indigenous artists and people,” he said. “It was beautiful to see and to be in that atmosphere. I'm very honoured to represent our people.”
Bell was surprised to hear his name called for the Instrumentalist of the Year category.
He was backstage and was going off to take a photo but was told to wait because the second category he was nominated in was to be announced.
“Then I had to go back to the podium, and I was super shocked,” said Bell. “I was very honoured.”
The second award was for Rap Album of the year for U R What U R Vol. 1 , which he was a surprise considering it was a completely new genre for him.
Bell, a self-taught musician, first learned to play the guitar when he was only 13 years old.
Although he’s been a musician for decades in 2021, he became a solo artist.
It was during the pandemic he decided to learn something completely new.
“I was like, ‘I have all this time, so I think I should learn how to do this’ ” said Bell about venturing into Rap music. “I knew nothing about it. How to create it. How to build a hip-hop song. It was a good time to start learning that and I produced all the songs and wrote all the music.”
He also collaborated with artists from all over the world for his album.
Bell said one of the best things about the creative process was being able to work with incredible music artists like Awon.
He reached out to the Brooklyn NY artist on Instagram and asked if he was interested in collaborating.
“He’s well known all over the world,” said Bell “So that's the highlight of the record.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Awon he’s an award-winning hip-hop artist who was documentary on hip-hop that aired on Netflix and Red Bull T.V.
Bell said is happy such an award show exists and is looking forward to see how it evolves.
When he’s winning awards and making music, Bell is a music teacher in Stanley Mission.
According to a news release, the awards were established earlier this year by the Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Association (S.I.M.A.), a non-profit organization, created to support, promote and advocate for Saskatchewan-based Indigenous artists, groups, and music of all genres.
SIMA is made up of people from across the province who have a wealth of diverse and valuable experiences with the music industry. The board consists of Dale McArthur, Darwin Roy, Donny Parenteau, Grant Kimbley, Paul Lomheim, Roland Corrigal, Sheryl Kimbley, and Yvonne St. Germaine.
The awards were created to recognize more of the province's Indigenous artists. Previously, Indigenous was just a single category with any mainstream music awards.
The board felt it was time to create an organization dedicated to Indigenous music.
The following is a list of nominees and winners for the 10 music categories.
Country / Roots Person or Group of the Year
Winner: Jarrid Lee
Emerging Artist of the Year (18 & under)
Fan's Choice of the Year
Winner: Donny Corrigal
Female Artist of the Year
Allison Rae Strong
Winner: Falynn Baptiste
Gospel Recording of the Year
Mervin and Marsha Morin
Winner: Sundance and Sunshine Brass
Instrumentalist of the Year
Velcro Stories ft. Nige B
Male Artist of the Year
Patrick Moon Bird
Winner: Nige B
Rock / Heavy Metal / Rap Person or Group of the Year
Winner: Nige B
Song of the Year
Winner: Shawn Adams - “Take Your Halo Off”
Willard Ahenakew Award
Winner: Lawrence Joseph