A Miner’s Prayer

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If you live in Ontario you will be treated to a lot of great music this summer. One performer in particular is shining these days – Matt James (Naveau) of Mattagami First Nation.

Matt grew up as part of a large, musical family in Mattagami. Matt has been performing for years and has composed hundreds of songs. American groups, like the Wells Family and Circa Blue, have recorded some of his tunes. At only 31, he really has paid his dues, primarily with Sudbury’s Canucky Bluegrass Boys as an award-winning bass player and songwriter for the last 10 years.

With the support of his best friend Lee D. Roy, also a member of Canucky Bluegrass Boys, he has plans to record an eight-song album in Nashville this year. They are making it happen through fundraising and the support of family, friends and fans.

In May he released his first single, “A Miner’s Prayer”, on iTunes. His self-titled album Matt James was released at a CD launch party in Sudbury at the Caruso Club June 1. His music has been well received and he is quickly establishing a fan base from far and wide. None of this happened overnight as Matt has kept plugging away as a singer, bass player, guitarist and performer in bars, clubs and at events over the past decade. His hard work is paying off.

I am well acquainted with Matt’s family and friends back on the rez in Mattagami First Nation and I can tell you they all love him dearly. They are his biggest fans. I was saddened to hear of the passing last summer of his father James, who was a leader in the community. That was a very difficult time for Matt. However, he had a dream one night in a sort of visit from his dad who told him about what the life of a miner was. Incredibly, when Matt awoke he went right to work and penned his first single, “A Miner’s Prayer”, in a tribute to his father. This song is a big favourite with his fans.

Lucky for Matt he was discovered by Juno award winner and popular performer Wapistan, Lawrence Martin, who hails from Moose Cree First Nation on the James Bay coast. I am also well acquainted with the work of Wapistan and he is the perfect person to be managing Matt at this point in his career. Wapistan has a background also in politics and was the Grand Chief of Muskekowuk Council and mayor of Sioux Lookout and Cochrane where he now resides.

I am very impressed with Matt’s new single. He has a great voice and his song lingered on my mind. You can find out where Matt is performing this summer by going to his website (www.mattjamesmusic.ca) or on Facebook at Matt James Fanpage. For more information or to book him for a performance you can contact Lawrence Martin Wapistan at 416-500-8242 or email wapistan2015@gmail.com

Matt’s dedication to his career is an inspiration to young Aboriginal people in his home community and across northern Ontario. There has always been a lack of individuals who could step out of our communities to do something in music, performance or the creative arts.  We need more individuals like Matt who are working hard to perform to become noticed and to share their Native roots and their heritage with as many people in the world as possible. He makes First Nation youth feel proud.

That’s a big deal.

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