JUNO-nominated Métis artist Amanda Rheaume’s latest single, “The Best,” is sitting at the top of the Indigenous Music Countdown this week.
It’s a successful follow-up to her earlier single, “The Skin I’m In,” which hit No. 1 on the Indigenous Music Countdown in May, 2019.
She has long tried to employ her music as a force for good. She’s performed for Canadian military personnel in Afghanistan three times, and visited the Canadian Forces Station Alert base in Canada’s far north. For the past two years she’s been promoting Indigenous music by her involvement with the Indigenous Music Summit.
Rheaume co-founded Babes4Breasts, an initiative that, through concerts and recording projects, has raised money for breast cancer charities across Canada over a ten year period.
She was getting ready to hit the summer festival circuit, but that’s all up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile she’s holding fort in Ottawa where we checked in with her.
You had shows booked for March in Toronto and Ottawa. Since that didn’t happen, what have you been doing?
I’ve been facetiming a lot with friends, joining fun Zoom parties, and catching up on e-mails I was too busy to respond to before. Now there’s all this extra time to cross all of those t’s and dot the i’s. I’ve also started writing again. I signed up for a daily writing practice course and I find that’s been awesome for keeping the creative juices flowing. Otherwise I’m in Ottawa staying with my parents, and spending time with them.
Sounds like you’re making the most of the time.
Yeah, this is such a strange time. There are a lot of predictions about when concerts will come back but no one really knows. So I’ve been doing simpler things that I forgot I loved to do, like going for a long walk or listening to birds, or just being.
What’s happening with the Indigenous Music Summit?
Right before all of this happened my good friend ShosShona Kish and I were running a lot of projects and events for the summit, and we were full steam ahead. We had our second annual Indigenous Music Summit in January in New Orleans and we had well over 100 Indigenous delegates from all over the world. We’re having a lot of discussions about funding and location, and holding the next one in spring 2021, but we don’t know how the pandemic is going to affect things a year from now. It may have to be virtual.
You always keep the greater good in mind. Tell us more about that.
A while back I was standing onstage in front of thousands of people, and I started thinking, “What am I saying,” because this is an opportunity and a responsibility. I say things, and sing things, and play chords and all of those things get transmitted out of me and hit other people – literally with sound waves and energy. And I thought, what a cool thing to maybe make a small difference in someone’s life in whatever way, whether it be a song or a hello after the show, or putting on a show for Wet’so’weten. I feel this is my calling.
What are some positive takeaways from the pandemic situation?
Well, self-care. This is the most sleep I’ve gotten in years, and it’s a great way to connect with myself and listen to my body, spirit, mind, and heart. As an artist you have to tour, you have to stay relevant, there are schedules and release dates. All of those things are important, but I’m reminded that I write and sing and play because it’s in my heart. It reminds me of why I ever started doing music.