Indigenous/Chilean hip-hop artist from Sweetgrass garners Indigenous Music Award nomination
- EFN Staff | May 02, 2018
A music artist from Sweetgrass First Nation is up for a nomination at this year’s Indigenous Music Awards on May 18 in Winnipeg – a dream long awaited. Yellowsky, a reggae and hip-hop artist, will be competing with four other music artists for the 2018 Best New Artist.
Roberto Andres Pooyak is a member of the Sweetgrass First Nation but resides in Saskatoon. But when he’s on stage, he goes by Yellowsky – a name that we got at a sweat lodge ceremony.
“I wanted [a name] that would set me apart and also that would be accepted worldwide,” said Yellowsky. “Before I did that, I had to get permission and I asked for permission to [use my actual ceremonial name] by elders…it was good to go.”
The reggae and hip-hop artist first began recording his first album in 2015. He gets his inspiration to create music from his Indigenous culture and his people.
“Our people are number one inspiration because they used music as an outlet to help our allies understand us…and portray a message,” he said.
Yellowsky had a hard life growing up. He was raised by a single mother who was a residential school survivor and together they lived in poverty. He faced racism most of his life and found himself struggling with his identity as he is also half Chilean.
“I dealt with a lot of racism…and at first I had to prove myself to my own people that I’m [Indigenous],” he said. “I was bullied a lot, too, so I had to go and prove myself to be accepted and I did. I started going to every ceremony and started Sundancing at the age of 11. I try to attain my identity and I’m in a constant identity crisis because of that.”
But the music artist persevered and is now reaching his way up. The award nomination followed his recent album release in December 2017. Being nominated came as a surprise to Yellowsky and he knew he was on the right path.
“For my name being up there amongst other artists is incredible. I’m going out for 2018 Best New Artist…just for me being mentioned and recognized, that’s good enough,” he said. “I been through a lot and I had a pretty crazy life and up until a few years ago…after everything I’ve been through, it’s worth it. Everything is worth it.”
Yellowsky not only hopes to win the Best New Artist category but hopes to gain recognition from the music he puts out there to inspire others that if he can do it, so can they.
“I’m here to remind people of their own power and to help people wake up and realize there’s a lot of things that is right and wrong in this world,” he said. “It’s up to the creators on earth, and by creators, I mean artists on earth. I believe it’s our responsibility to project that into whatever chosen field of art, we do it and mine happens to be music.”
Right after the Indigenous Music Awards next month, the first-time nominee will be playing in Victoria, BC at a reggae festival.