By Veronica Johnny
Music Industry Arts and Performance Student
When I auditioned for the Music Industry Arts & Performance (MIAP) program, by singing a traditional Aboriginal hand drum song, I knew this program was different. From the first class to the last, I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and learned every possible way to earn an income in this business called music.
I’m the only Aboriginal student in the program (thus far) and will be one of its first graduates. Prior to becoming a MIAP student, I was a seasoned performer with three full-length albums that all garnered nominations for awards; a graduate of Trebas’ Audio Engineering program with mixing & co-producing experience; and a full time manager of my rock band – The Johnnys.
In traditional Aboriginal custom, our medicine people say that the more you put into ceremony, the more you get out of it. This is a good guide for everything in life and it particularly applies to the MIAP program.
From the outset, our class became an instant community of friends. We grew as close as family. Our slogan became “MIAP for life!” Right into our last semester, with those that remained helping each other to finish assignments. Our ensembles – Blue Flame and Lost in Sound – wrote many songs including one for future MIAP students to sing called, “Music is Everything.”
We’ve had some of the best instructors including Bob Wiseman (Songwriting), Brian Wright-McLeod (Indigenous music) and Ron Skinner (Audio); performed at the Toronto Centre for the Arts and Lula Lounge; and had guest speakers including Feist; major label representatives; and the manager of A Tribe Called Red.
I couldn’t have done it without the Athabasca Tribal Council and my tutor, Tim Stokes-Rees (lead guitarist of The Johnnys). The best part was getting to know everyone, especially Valentina Morelli, Britney Jones and Andrew Scola – now all members of The Johnnys.
Much gratitude to the person that kept us all inspired and always opened his door and his heart, our fearless & talented leader, Jesse Feyen. All heart. All music.