Claude McKenzie

Innu singer-song-writer Claude McKenzie was born 1967 in Schefferville, Quebec. He started to sing at the age of seven. In Maliotenam, the home of the festival Innu Nikamu that brings Aboriginal musicians from across Canada and beyond together each summer, he met Florent Vollant in 1984 and together they formed the folk music duo Kashtin, the most commercially successful musical group in Canadian First Nations history. Their music is a mix of rock and folk and they sing in Innu aimun, their native language. Ethnomusicologist Veronique Audet has written about their dramatic rise to fame. "In 1988, they were filmed by Radio-Canada during the Innu Nikamu festival (Morrison 1996), and they were then discovered by producer Guy Trépanier who recorded and produced their debut commercial album in 1989. It was at this point that their solo "E uassiuian" invaded Québécois radiowaves and they sold 150 000 albums (Kashtin 1989) in 4 months!" Their three albums Kashtin, Innu, and Akau Tuta sold over 500,000 copies and garnered both Felix and Juno awards. They toured internationally, wowing European crowds and critics; among their performances was one at La Cigale where they opened for Louis Chedid and another at the Bourges Festival where they performed together with Daniel Lanois. More recently, they have each pursued solo careers. In 1997, Claude received a Juno nomination for Innu Town his first solo album and again in 2005 for Pishimuss. His latest CD Inniu appeared in 2009.