CBC Searchlight 2015: Meet the Nunavut Finalists


If you're Canadian, love music, and listen to the CBC, you'll know that the annual CBC Searchlight competition has been taking place over the past several weeks. Earlier this week, CBC announced it's Searchlight regional finalists. Of the 3,333 artists that entered the competition, only 225 have moved on to the regional finals, five of which are from Nunavut.

Now it's up to fans like you to decide who will represent Nunavut at the national level. Only one of the five finalists will make the cut - and it all depends on your votes. Online voting is taking place from now until April 27 on the CBC Searchlight homepage; select "Iqaluit - Qulliq" to find all the Nunavut entries.

On April 28, the regional champions from across the country will be revealed and will enter the national round. The final winner of CBC Searchlight will be selected by this year's panel of judges, Dan Boeckner, Jenn Grant, and Saukrates. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive $20,000 of gear from Yamaha.

To help you make your decision, we decided to reach out to the Nunavut-based finalists to learn a little more about them, their music, and their journey. Read on to learn more about the Nunavut talent in this year's CBC Searchlight competition.

The CBC Searchlight Finalists from Nunavut

Name: Jennifer Gina
Song: "Down the Chute"

Community: Iqaluit

Why she chose to enter Searchlight: I had this song hanging around and my friend Jeff Maurice [of Iqaluit's The Trade Offs] encouraged me. We wrote and composed the song together.

The most rewarding part of this experience: I'd have to say seeing your name and creation make it to the finals for Canada, knowing your song was chosen over 3,333 peeps!

About her entry: I moved to Iqaluit in 2010 and lived in the 8-storey. I was throwing my garbage out one day, putting it "down the chute" and I thought to myself, "Hey, that would be a catchy title for a song." I thought about how many broken hearts so many of us have to go through before we find "the right one." For this to happen, we must be accepting and learn to let go...free ourselves. And so you have it. Jeff Maurice and I put together some warming words with a catchy tune and we laid down tracks in his home studio. He played all of the instruments, except for the mandolin, played by the talented Chris Coleman.

Name: Joanne Ashley
Song: "Bound to Go"

Community: Iqaluit

Why she chose to enter Searchlight: I love connecting with other singer/songwriters/musicians across Canada and the producers at CBC so Searchlight has been a great segue to journey into that experience. I've collaborated with a group of other singer/songwriters from across the country to gain more exposure for all our music via social media and it really made a difference. Without Searchlight we would have never had that kind of potential for broad exposure and coverage for our music.

The most rewarding part of this experience: Hearing from people all across Canada that tell me they really like my music or how it made them feel is pretty awesome.

About her entry: "Bound to Go" is one of my originals. It is about the transient nature of Iqaluit and how sometimes having to say goodbye to close friends is really hard. This song was inspired when two really close friends of mine moved at the same time and it left me feeling pretty empty and less vibrant than usual. Writing the song was cathartic and helped me to channel that sadness and release it and move forward. Greg Simms, my producer, Trent Freeman, Thor Simonsen, and I laid some guitar, mandolin, fiddle, percussion, electronic, and vocal tracks in my home studio (Chloe D. Studios). All other recordings were done in Halifax by Greg Simms and other professional musicians.

Name: Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt
Song: "Naglingniq (Shortened)"

Community: Rankin Inlet

Why she chose to enter Searchlight: By entering the contest, I knew I could share my new music with family and friends, while providing it space for it to get some airplay. I am releasing my first album in July, and thought if I could share one of my favorite songs, it would help to build excitement for my project.

The most rewarding part of this experience: The positive feedback on my new music is really exciting for me. Being able to share our creation with others, especially with people from my home community of Rankin Inlet, is a really good feeling. I am so proud of where I come from, and hope to have an album release at home this summer or fall.

About her entry: If you're familiar with throat-singing, you'll hear the very popular Love Song, within Naglingniq (the song title, which simply means "Love"). Naglingniq was created in collaboration, on the spot, while recording my album in January. I had an entirely different idea for the song, but as we jammed it out in Nuvu Music Studios in Iqaluit, it took its own direction and each of the pieces fell beautifully into place. I worked with amazing musicians for my album recording, and this song includes Nancy Mike, Andrew Morrison, and Rob Aube [of The Jerry Cans], and Chris Coleman. There is a newer version coming out on the album that will include violin by Gina Burgess [also of The Jerry Cans] and added poetry. You will love it!

Name: Scary Bear Soundtrack
Song: "Fault Lines"
Community: Cambridge Bay

Why they chose to enter Searchlight: We thought it would be a great promotional opportunity for our single Fault Lines. We will be releasing a new EP album called Ovayok Road this summer featuring our single Fault Lines, and we're also going to be releasing a music video for Fault Lines in collaboration with filmmaker Mailyne Briggs. Part of the music video will features "selfies" that we've been collecting from people around the world, showing them holding signs of support that say "End Violence Against Women." We'd love to get more, especially from Nunavut!

The most rewarding part of this experience: We have been able to discover great new music - we actually made playlist of some of our favourite electro Searchlight discoveries - and we've also met friendly new musicians from different genres across the country, including Elsa Jayne, Manny Goossen, Chersea, Blue Hibou, and The Domestics. Hopefully we'll be able to perform them one day if we ever tour in their hometowns. Also, CBC Music recently compared our music to Grimes', which is really awesome!

About their entry: We touched on this last time we talked with you, but Fault Lines is about violence against women, and supporting survivors of sexual violence, based on personal stories, stories we've encountered in our professional lives, as well as the stories in the news. The song was recorded in my house, with Ben Leggett from North Bay doing the mixing.  Each day this week, I am publishing on Instagram and Twitter a series of "Arctic postcards" that explain the lyrics of our song, line by line. People can follow along this series with the hashtag #FaultLinesProject.

Name: Thor Simonsen
Song: "Calling 867"
Community: Iqaluit

Why he chose to enter Searchlight: Someone at CBC had heard "Calling 867" and called me to encourage me to submit it to Searchlight.

The most rewarding part of this experience: It was nice to have people from cities in southern Canada calling me to say that they'd been hearing the song on the radio. ("There isn't another Thor from Iqaluit, is there?"). Because of the song's ties to Denmark, it was also great to have radio stations from Scandinavia play the song and ask questions about this "Nunavut" place. It was also a great honour to be able to perform the song on stage for 500 people while opening for A Tribe Called Red (while waving a gigantic Nunavut flag).

About his entry: The song was recorded in my home studio with Christine Tootoo, who did the throat-singing and background vocals. All the instruments in the song were performed by me and I did the mixing as well. It was mastered in Los Angeles. The lyrics of the song were written to try and convince a girl I was seeing to move back to Iqaluit. I missed her. (You can read more about "Calling 867" in this interview we did with Thor after the song's release.)

How to Vote

If you'd like to show your support for these amazing Nunavut artists, all you have to do is:

1. Head to the Searchlight homepage 2. Select the "Iqaluit: Qulliq" region 3. Vote for your favourite (you can vote once per day until April 27)

If you need additional incentive, there's this: voters can enter to win prizes from Yamaha Canada Music.

Who are your favourites from the CBC Searchlight Nunavut finalists? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!