Shauit & Wachmnhit
The world’s first Innu reggae artist comes from the Maliotenam reserve east of Sept-îles, in northeast Québec. Shauit actually grew up in New Brunswick. His mother tongue is French, and he learned the Innu language only later, because he wanted to. He was around 12 years old when, upon discovering the very popular group Kashtin at the Innu Nikamu festival in Maliotenam, he decided to move closer to his indigenous roots. His father bought him a guitar, and he learned Innu to sing in his ancestral language and to reconnect with his people.
Shauit first became known in 2007 when he collaborated on the hit track “Les Nomades” with his Algonquin friend, the rapper Samian. He identified with dancehall, a sunny musical genre that nevertheless speaks of poverty and violence. His first eponymous mini-album, which appeared in 2016, speaks mostly of celebration, but his second work, “Apu Peikussiaku,” issued in 2017, has a more spiritual tone and bears a message of peace and environmental preservation.
Shauit, whose real name is Jean-Eudes Bourdages Aster, is a seeker of identity and, as such, has made himself the voice of many young indigenous people caught between two cultures. His initiative and success provide an example for new generations to follow, because the young people are speaking French more, and the Innu language is headed for extinction. As a person of mixed race, this singer-songwriter has set himself the mandate of reconciling communities. He writes lyrics filled with positive messages in Innu, French, English and even Creole, with the hope of making a difference in the lives of those who listen to him.
Strongly inspired by his Innu roots and traditional music, he blends various popular genres (folk, country, rock, reggae, etc.) and offers honest and committed songs, filled with emotion and personal experience. A proud representative of indigenous culture, Shauit won the award for “best North American indigenous language album” at the Indigenous Music Awards in May 2018 as well as the indigenous songwriter of the year award at the 14th Canadian Folk Music Awards. After performing in North America and Europe, Shauit has achieved a broader international reach, with shows in Japan, Korea and Chile.
Formed in 2005 around a common passion for reggae, Wachmnhit consists of seven Moroccan musicians who chose roots reggae to express their experiences, the contradictions of their society and the troubles of their generation.
Despite a prevailing conservatism, Wachmnhit manages to get its dissenting lyrics heard on stages in Essaouira, Casablanca and Rabat and to make the voice of the people known through their Moroccan reggae.
Inspired by Bob Marley, Alpha Blondy, Burning Spear and the Gnawa music groups whose style they adopt, the message from these young musicians obviously rings true, because in 2006 they won first prize among new-generation musicians in the “Boulevard des jeunes musiciens” in Casablanca. This encouraged them to work on their first self-produced album, Hit Wachmnhit, released in 2009.
With cultural blending in mind, Wachmnhitt mixes blues, jazz, ska, Latino and other musical styles. The group, which emerged from the music workshop of Ibn Tofaïl University in Kénitra, consists of singer and composer Ouahid Ahmed, backed by the guitars of Amine Souikra and Ali Ouguerd with their desert blues tones, the bass of Faycal Boudli, the keyboards of Amine Sylani, the percussions of Anas Khihel and the drums of Salim Akki.