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  • Writer's pictureStevie Connor

Rising From The Great White North: Award-Winning Indigenous Roots, Country Artist Nelson Little

I write a lot of articles about Canadian artists, and also about artists from many countries around the world for The Sound Café. Mainly these artists are established and have large followings in their home country and also internationally. With The Sound Café HQ being based in Ontario, Canada, I get sent many e-mails from performers that I am not that familiar with from across this vast country, in an array of genres, and I wanted space to shine a light on some of these very talented artists.

To define 'emerging' can be a little tricky, some singer-songwriters, bands, musicians can spend a few years playing locally before they are recognized regionally, and may take a number of years of hard work and touring to be acknowledged nationally, so, to clarify this column, I am going to feature artists who I think are beginning to 'emerge', or already have 'emerged ' from their local or regional scenes.

I decided to create this column exclusively for The Sound Café where I'll showcase 'emerging' talent from across Canada. I hope you enjoy the features and come back and visit again.

Nelson Little, a prominent figure in the country music scene, achieved acclaim by winning the Roots Artist of the Year at the Manitoba Country Music Awards in 2023. His dedication to his craft and his unique style have earned him recognition among peers and fans alike. With a passion for storytelling woven into his music, Nelson captivates audiences with his heartfelt lyrics and soulful melodies. As he continues to garner accolades, Nelson's upcoming performances promise to showcase his talent and further solidify his place in the world of country music.

Nelson Little is a masterful storyteller, gripping vocalist, and a highly coveted dynamic performer. With a guitar in hand, Little delivers inspiring music that merges Roots, Rock, and Country with a hint of Rock and Roll. The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Award winner has opened for Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Major, The Sheepdogs, and Fred Eaglesmith. His music has been featured across Canada, including on CTV Morning Live, SiriusXM, and the CBC Radio network, reaching #1 on the Indigenous Music Countdown, Canada's largest running Indigenous music chart program since 2000. Raised on Gospel music and influenced by Roots, Country, and Rock, Little's exceptional songwriting always involves encouragement and positivity delivered with upbeat grooves that almost demand dancing along to. Two years after releasing his single "High Road", a song inspired by his son that urges listeners to keep their head up, Little has just released "Just Make It Happen", a high energy, Chuck Berry-inspired 50's Rock song that is designed to inspire any listener of any age to take control of their destiny and go for their dreams.

"Just Make It Happen" was recorded at Winnipeg's Exchange District Studios and was produced by Dave Wasyliw (Doc Walker), who also played rhythm guitar and performed background vocals on the track. Written by Nelson Little and Dave Rodgers, the song also features Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies), who played lead guitar on the track.

Nelson said of the track, "Just Make It Happen is an uplifting, energetic, and feel-good kind of song. If you believe that anything is possible, no matter where you are in life, this song will resonate with you."

Nearly 18 months in the making, "Just Make It Happen" is a Roots-Rock song infused with a hint of Country and classic Rock and Roll. An ode to the pursuit of any dream no matter how small, "Just Make It Happen" was penned over long Sunday drives with the idea of a championship coach giving a talk to their team in mind - to be motivating, positive, and supportive, without any negativity. With a Jerry Lee Lewis style keyboard and the seamless mixture of the rhythm and lead guitars, "Just Make It Happen" flies full throttle into its first verse, with Little's unmistakeable Rock-rasp vocal and encouraging lyrics, bursting the rest of the song wide open with incredible musicianship, signature guitar licks, and an unforgettable groove. Designed to be compelling to listeners of any age, Little and Rodgers wrote the song to be applicable to everyone, regardless of their stage in life or circumstances. From its first note, "Just Make It Happen" feels nostalgic yet fresh - a song that could come out of a jukebox in 1950 or today. Staying true to his Roots-Country-Rock foundation, the song follows Little's award-winning release, "High Road" which served as part one of the two inspirational tracks.

Manitoba recording artist Nelson Little is based out of Portage la Prairie and is a three-time Manitoba Country Music Association award nominee and winner. He is known for weaving his personal experiences and emotions into his lyrics. This past year has been busy for Nelson. He started out the new year with a full band appearance for the Manitoba Moose at the Canada Life Center in Winnipeg, MB, and performed both national anthems. Since then, he has toured with Jason McCoy and Emma Peterson, opened for Kendra Kay at Elkhorn Homecoming 2023, and performed on the mainstage at Dauphin Country Fest, Dauphin, MB. Additionally, Nelson has performed at the Festival du Voyager, Winnipeg, MB; Boggy Creek Metis Days, San Clara, MB; Mossey River Days, Winnipegosis, MB; Treherne Vintage Car and Tractor Parade, Treherne, MB; Whoop and Holler Festival, Portage la Prairie, MB; and Stomperfest, Reedy Creek, MB.


Photo Credit: Anne Connor.

Stevie Connor is originally from Scotland, for the last 16 years he has been based just outside of Toronto in the GTA.

He is a recorded artist having contributed to more than twenty albums in the past, ranging from rock to folk and Celtic music. He is a top class piper and plays guitar and whistles, his original compositions have been recorded and played by other artists.

He is the founder and editor of The Sound Cafe Magazine and co-founder of Blues and Roots Radio, he has written in the past for Blues and Roots Radio (Canada), Great Dark Wonder (USA), Fatea Magazine (UK) and Music World Media (Australia). Stevie has, in the past, contributed his many years of experience as a respected juror for the JUNO Awards, The Canadian Folk Music Awards, and the Maple Blues Awards in Canada.

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