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​​​​​​​Adrian Sutherland: Politician Man

The frontman of Indigenous root-rockers Midnight Shine makes an impressive solo debut with a timely protest song that advocates for reconciliation and is directed at our leaders.

​​​​​​​Adrian Sutherland: Politician Man

By Kerry Doole

Adrian Sutherland - Politician Man (Midnight Shine Music): Here is one timely new track. The debut solo single from Adrian Sutherland, the leader of Indigenous roots-rock band Midnight Shine, it is released just in time for today's federal election.


Sutherland terms it "a protest song for Canada," as he takes deserved aim at our political leaders for their ongoing failure to adequately address the situation of Canada's Indigenous peoples. He knows of what he speaks, as he hails from Attawapiskat, the northern Ontario community so often in the news.

A press release notes that "the seeds of the song were planted in July when Sutherland's Cree community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency over contaminated water. At the same moment, insensitive comments from a politician in Ottawa sparked massive public outcry, spontaneous response from Sutherland and national media coverage."

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In September, the song, co-written by Sutherland, Chris Gormley (The Trews, Daylight for Deadeyes), and Matt Gormley (Daylight for Deadeyes), was recorded in Hamilton, mastered by João Carvalho in Toronto, and is released independently on Sutherland’s record label, Midnight Shine Music. A striking video was filmed this month by Justin Stephenson (director of animation, and editor of The Secret Path.

Sutherland explains the message of the tune this way: “The relationship between Canada and First Nations has been difficult for a long time, and in many ways it still is. Politician Man is about this relationship, and the need for all of us – politicians, chiefs, Indigenous people, all Canadians – to start listening to each other and take steps together. Let’s move past the blaming and do something. We all need to do our part. That’s what reconciliation is, and the message behind Politician Man.” 

Discussing the video, Stephenson states, “I knew we’d have footage of Adrian in the studio and used this as the starting point. We wanted to combine his performance with images of Canada, and sought permission from Canadian Geographic to use their Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. It's a beautiful and important map that shows Indigenous territories and communities without provincial boundaries.”

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The tune features harmonica and wailing guitar, and it builds to a rousing chorus with massed backing vocals and indigenous chanting. Stirring stuff.

Politician Man was released at the start of Secret Path Week, a national movement commemorating the legacies of Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack, and calling on all Canadians to “Do Something.” Sutherland took part in several events in the Toronto area, including three Legacy: A Tribute to Gord Downie concerts.

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Management/Publicity: RoseAnna Schick, RAS Creative

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