Arts & Life, Music

Playing for solution

By: Don Amero

I’m in New York City for the first time and my main reason for coming here is to showcase at the Native America North Event being held during the Association of Presenters and Performers conference (APAP).  My goal is to make a few new fans and hope to book a few shows in some international markets. The showcase takes place during the APAP conference at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

Part of my requirements to being here is to attend two days of pre-conference workshops put on by publicity company Rock, Paper, Scissors. Day one of the workshops was a little underwhelming, however, hearing from Tony Van Veen from CD Baby and Kendel Ratley from Kickstarter was inspiring. Not that the rest of the discussion wasn’t useful to some. Most of the workshops are dealing with World Music and I am feeling there’s not a lot of info here for me. I have been able to absorb some info that I can apply to my role in the music industry.

Being from Canada and belonging to the sub-genre of music known as the Aboriginal Music of Canada, it would seem that my music would qualify as World Music. It turns out the term ‘World Music’ is not a widely liked term, but it is accepted because it seems to define one of three things: 1: The music is largely identified amongst a certain culture. 2: It’s basically (any genre here) but sung in a cultural language or, 3: The lyrics share something of that culture. It helps presenters know that what they are booking is of some cultural relevance.

I feel like I fit in, in a different way. My music is a mix of Pop/ Country/ Roots and one element that I believe brought me here is the fact that I sing of my “Aboriginal experience,” which is quite different than those from the two other showcasing artists (Digging Roots and Elisipie). While they have what seem to be strong ties to their Aboriginal communities, I have never been part of one. Long story, but I’ll try and keep it brief: My mom is Metis from Manitoba, my dad is acadian from Nova Scotia. They raised us in a cultural-less home. Growing up I never identified with any culture, race or religion. It wasn’t until I hit my early 20s when I felt an urge to talk with my parents about our history. When I discovered some of our history I began to feel the need to get more in touch with my Aboriginal roots.


I grew up in the north end of Winnipeg and while it is very culturally diverse, it has a very high Aboriginal population and it made more sense for me to connect with those roots than my acadian roots. I heard the Bruce Cockburn song Red Brother, Red Sister one day and it broke my heart. I realized that I want to be a part of the solution and do what I can to change the unjust perception that some people have towards North American Natives.

So, I am here in New York telling my story through song and my goals are twofold, 1: As a music industry professional to gain interest in international markets and 2: To help people understand where I am coming from as a young Metis man who grew up with little culture, but is aiming to change the perspective people have of aboriginal people.


Don Amero is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Winnipeg. Check out his website:

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