06/13/2012 06:28 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT

NXNE music fest spotlights emerging artists

New and emerging Canadian artists are bumping shoulders with top national and international acts at Canada's North by Northeast festival, currently underway in Toronto.

The annual musical extravaganza has become one of Canada's most important showcases for launching up-and-coming Canadian and international recording artists, with everyone from Feist to K'Naan having performed at previous editions.

"Canada's a great place with so many amazing artists. It's great to be part of an Canadian festival, at this level," Montreal-born pop-rocker Danielle Duval told CBC News on Wednesday.

Toronto-based Duval, who just returned from a tour in Singapore, released her debut album Of The Valley to a host of positive critical reviews in late May.

"There's been a great culmination of amazing people and great things happening — everything sort of coming together. This [NXNE showcase] for us is just going to be our opportunity to just kick it up a notch higher and say thanks to everyone and to rock out."

The festival is also significant as a way to gauge how young artists perform and interact before live audiences. Tasha Schumann, who performs solo as Tasha the Amazon and also fronts the urban music trio Candy Coated Killahz, has landed a coveted closing night slot alongside two of this year's headliners: rap heavyweights Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, also members of Wu-Tang.

"I've had the pleasure of opening for a lot of really wicked people before — we did Flo Rida, T-Pain, GZA, The Roots — but Wu-Tang obviously has a huge place in my heart, as a hip hop fan. This is amazing for me," said the Toronto rapper and producer.

Though homegrown rappers like Drake, K'Naan and k-os have made waves outside of Canada, there have been few female hip hop stars of late.

"It's a huge honour to [represent female rappers] anywhere in the world. There [are] not a lot of females in hip hop anywhere, in any country," Schumann said.

"Just to be able to kind of follow the lead of people that I grew up with in the 90s — Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Missy Elliott — and just to be the next torch-bearer in that lineage is wicked."

Along with Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, other established artists on the 2012 NXNE bill include The Flaming Lips, Bad Religion and Matthew Good.

North by Northeast, which also shines a light on music-related films and hosts industry panels, discussions and workshops, continues through June 17.