Leonard Sumner (MB)
He’s heralded as one of the most important and vital new voices on the First Nations roots music scene today, and is making waves beyond. Leonard Sumner is an Anishinaabe poet, singer/songwriter and MC from the Little Saskatchewan First Nation, located in Manitoba’s Interlake Region directly north of Winnipeg.
Sumner’s music is a rap-roots fusion with a strong indigenous perspective – a new sound he describes as “straight from the Rez.” His lyrics and message are, truthful, insightful and direct – story-songs that often meld the political and the personal. He “offers a clear-eyed personal take on choices and consequences, struggles and love, and the complexities of contemporary Indigenous life—all spun through [his] unique brand of Native roots music that is deeply infused with acoustic guitar hymns, hip-hop rhythms and cadences, and just enough country and rhythm & blues to rep the urban, rez, and everywhere-in-between Indians with equal power”, says RPM’s Indigenous Music Culture in placing Sumner’s Rez Poetry near the top of their 2013 Top Ten.
Sumner has travelled to towns and villages across the country to support First Nations rights, and to share his stories and songs like They Say, about standing up and sharing your story as a strong indigenous person, and to talk about important issues like suicide prevention. “The effects of everything that has happened to First Nations – I get to see people that are building from that, and I get to see people that are still affected negatively,” Sumner recently told CBC Manitoba Scene. “Maybe that’s why my music connects…I’m sharing stuff that’s real.”
On stage, that emotion and authenticity inspires, as Sumner captivates crowds with a guitar slung over his shoulder, singing and rhyming to the beats, allowing his style and substance to be appreciated by all audiences.