Get to know 2022 Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year Presented by Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada nominee, Shawnee Kish in our “7 Questions With” series where we speak with first-time JUNO Award nominees from all genres.
Shawnee Kish is a proud Two Spirit Mohawk artist who has achieved significant career growth during the past 18 months. Named the 2020 winner of the CBC Searchlight national talent search, Shawnee followed up this breakthrough by releasing her debut self-titled EP in June 2021. Featuring lead single “Got it Bad” – which reached #2 on the CBC Radio Top 20 – the EP showcases Shawnee’s powerhouse voice, recalling Amy Winehouse and Etta James.
A highly-sought after collaborator, in 2021 Shawnee worked with the National Arts Centre and the NAC Orchestra to create a ground-breaking show called Undisrupted (CBC Gem), where she functioned as curator and vocalist for the NAC. She is also traveling to Dubai to perform and represent Canada at the 2021 World Expo. Shawnee is an outspoken advocate for Indigenous youth and LGBT2Q+ communities. Her extensive work for organizations such as We Matter and the Kids Help Phone continues to confirm that her passion and career is driven by empowering young people.
1. How did it feel to be nominated for a JUNO?
Jumping up and down on my couch sums up the overall feeling of complete joy. I feel a sense of pride knowing where I have come from in my journey of becoming. I am grateful and honoured to be recognized in music by my community and the Juno’s.
2. Who are your biggest musical influences?
The music that influenced me was eclectic but always driven by complete passion. Anything that would reach out of a speaker and into your spirit, mind and heart was like a language I could understand in a world I felt misunderstood in.
3. What are 3 items you require when you’re on-tour?
I don’t think there are any items I am attached to. No I lied, Starbucks iced coffee sets the mood anywhere you are.
4. What do you think is the best song you’ve ever released? What’s the story behind it?
The most vulnerable honest song I have ever written had been ‘I Left but Never Lied’ Creating from the heart not the head is easier said than done when it comes to raw vulnerability and something I continue to aim for. This song was a time in my life where I made a decision to leave a long time relationship that became unhealthy for me to be in. Leaving was the hardest thing to do but being honest for years about the slow let go was the most complicated agony. I did leave and in silence I allowed my world around me judge, ridicule and abandon me until I was left with nothing but I never lied about why, how and when I was leaving.
5. Which artist would you like to collaborate with most?
Talk (Run Away to Mars) is my anthem
6. What has been your favorite performance of your career?
Performing with the NAC orchestra was a magical memory. The Canadian Orchestra are incredible people and musicians. On their stage I felt as though I was floating.
7. What’s next for you?
I am excited to have recently teamed up with Amelia Recordings to release new music this year. I have set out to push the boundaries further into my becoming while collaborating with some wickedly talented creative minds. Looking forward to US and Canada show dates to be announced and get back out on stage in front of real faces and smiles. Throughout my journey I will continue on this path of sharing my stories, using music as healing while creating a platform using projects, music and opportunities to reach indiegnoues and LGBTQ2+ youth who need to know they are important in this world.
Tickets for The 2022 JUNO Awards are on sale now! Don’t miss out on an unforgettable night of Canadian music hosted by Simu Liu on May 15th.