BRITISH COLUMBIA

Grammy Nomination Puts Indigenous Artists In The Spotlight

12/08/2015 07:25 EST | Updated 12/08/2016 05:12 EST
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A Vancouver music producer has been nominated for a Grammy Award for best historical album.

"Every electronic device that I own was blowing up," said Kevin Howes about the hours following the announcement. 

"Native North America Volume 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock and Country from 1966 to 1985" drew a lot of attention when it was released last year — for many people it was the first time they'd heard some of the obscure recordings from the 60s, 70s and 80s from across Canada and the northern United States. 

Howes says the album came about through his research into Canadian music and history.

"In my travels looking for Canadian music I started picking up records by artists like Willie Dunn, Willy Mitchell and Willie Thrasher and you can't help but fall in love with the music."

Willy Mitchell and Desert River Band Kill'n Your Mind:

Eventually Howes was on a treasure-hunt, digging through archives at places like the CBC, and pulling out music from indigenous artists that hadn't received the attention he felt it deserved.

"I found out that not a lot of these artists were written about during the time of the recordings so I reached out to them one by one to thank them for their music and to learn more."

Quebec artist Willy Mitchell's was one of those artists who Howes reached out to.

"I've never had so much interest in my music in my entire life," he said about the impact of the album. 

"For the past few months there I've been getting calls from all over the world - different people calling me to interview me. The Rolling Stones ... [people] from Spain... from L.A."​

Mitchell is now 62 years old and works as a truck driver. He continues to write and play music. 

"I play every second day or so - I have my guitars where I can just reach for them," he said.

"I have a library of lyrics that I refer to when I'm trying to write new songs. I got a lot of unfinished songs that I work on. I'm hoping someday I can come out with another CD."

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