New series Amplify on APTN serving as platform for Indigenous songwriters

Amplify hopes to raise profile for issues and Indigenous artists

A new series on APTN called Amplify is serving as a platform for Indigenous songwriters and knowledge keepers to share their ideas about a topic close to their hearts.

The show is an anthology series – where each episode ends with a music video of the song that was created based on the theme of the episode.

The show invites an Indigenous songwriter to find a piece of inspiration which could be a book, art piece or anything else they wish and write a song about it.

There are 13 episodes throughout the series, each featuring different songwriters and inspirations for the songs. Series creator Shane Belcourt believes viewers can connect with the artists on an intimate level.

“It’s a show that is unabashedly sentimental towards hope, love and connection and reconnection and understanding. And those are the kinds of things that the show is trying, each of the songwriters are trying to bring forth so,” said Belcourt.

“I hope that at the end of the day people will watch an episode and feel great about the potential they have in themselves to create change and to connect change through art.”

Shane Belcourt created the show Amplify on APTN to link viewers and singer-songwriters. Submitted photo.

Belcourt, Metis from Lac. St. Anne, Alta., is an award winning and Canadian Screen Actor award nominated director and writer.

He’s previously produced Red Rover and other films and the show Urban Native Girl in 2016 on APTN. He added that as a director, the intimacy of the show frees up both him and the artist when talking about topics important to the artist.

“I always find it a little awkward to kind of walk in to some, particularly a musician’s house and say ‘Hey you’re great at what you do, you know tell me why you’re great.’ It’s sort of met with a little bit of resistance and the opposite’s true when you ask a musician you know who are usually extremely articulate and passionate not just about their music but about their place and their feelings about how they see the world and the things around them.”

Tara Williamson is a Victoria, B.C. based singer-songwriter from Opaskwayak Cree Nation who was raised in Gaabishkigamaag. Her episode and music video were inspired by a work of art by Anishinaabe artist Daphne Odjig.

After losing her son in 2016, Williamson sought out art as a way to cope.

“After that I, you know it was a disaster and it was awful and I really did I looked for art, like I looked to art and I looked to music. I really did I sat with Google images like mother and child,” she stated in a Zoom interview.

“I sought out art about mother’s and children and this piece really stuck with me and it stuck with me for a long time.”

Cree singer-songwriter Tara Williamson’s episode was inspired by Anishinaabe artist Daphne Odjig. Submitted photo.

Williamson says the series focus on Indigenous art, culture and justice give it a unique edge over other series or documentaries.

“Being an Indigenous artist isn’t just about happening to be Indigenous and making art, it openly celebrates the fact that we’re influenced by other Indigenous artists, the things that happen to us, you know because we are Indigenous people and it doesn’t make that be a sideline or make it be sort of a token piece it makes it be the centre of it and I think that’s what celebrates it from other series.”

Amplify airs weekly on APTN with an English version on Friday’s as well as a separate Ojibwe version.

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