Adrian Sutherland is from Attawapiskat First Nation on the remote James Bay coast. He’s a musician, singer, songwriter, recording artist, entrepreneur, speaker, author, advocate, and the fascinating frontman and founder of Northern roots-rockers Midnight Shine. He’s also a father of four, a grandfather to four, a hard-working and handy husband, and a respected cultural leader, proud of who he is and where he comes from.
In addition to making meaningful music that resonates widely, Adrian is fluent in his Cree language, practices traditional ways of the land, and is a genuine example of someone who lives authentically. An innovative and insightful thinker who has chosen to raise his family in Attawapiskat.
"In light of the horrific discovery here in Canada of 215 children, which we are all still trying to wrap our heads around… we wanted to share the song SURVIVOR. Music and storytelling has a way of helping healing, and so we dedicate this song to honour the Survivors of Canada’s residential school system – and those who never made it home." - RAS Creative
Written by Adrian Sutherland, and produced by John-Angus MacDonald (The Trews), Survivor quietly came into the world on Midnight Shine’s last album High Road. It was recorded at Jukasa Studios in Ohsweken, Ontario, and never released as a single – until now.
A touching song about never losing hope, Survivor has Mushkegowuk Cree lyrics in the bridge: Kwaneh poonihtah kehnikook ehkomah
Ehko pahsikoo kahneh pahkitehnimoo
Which, translated into English, means: Never give up keep fighting hard
Rise up and never let up
A strong sense of melody has always been at the heart of Adrian Sutherland’s songwriting. Inspired by his musically-inclined mother, and the many artists he grew up listening to on the radio, Sutherland’s lyrics often reveal what life has been like for him in the North.
Title track “James Bay” pays homage to Sutherland’s remote home region in Northern Ontario, while “Mooshum” honours the memory of his grandfather. “Indian In Disguise” makes a powerful statement about losing one’s identity, and “Save My Life” reveals the darkness that comes with addiction – a struggle that Sutherland (now sober 20 years) has known firsthand. On the lighter side, “Hopeless Romantic” is a love song about secretly yearning for someone who “don’t even know my name,” while “Small Town Girl” paints the picture of “a simple smile, one of a kind.”
Songwriting is Sutherland’s way of sharing parts of his life, while bringing further awareness to important issues. He says, “Everybody has a story to share, and I think it’s important for First Nations people to shed positive light on our culture and values. That’s what I hope to do with my music.”Within the past year, Sutherland has gained attention for his cover of Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold" sung in Cree, and for his scathing protest song "Politician Man," the video for which won a prestigious Golden Sheaf Award at the Yorkton Film Festival. He was also a featured performer at the 2020 Indspire Awards gala, broadcast on CBC and APTN.