Sudbury musician Matt James wins big at Native American Music Awards

Sudbury musician Matt James has won big at the Native American Music Awards.

The country music artist with roots in Mattagami First Nation recently won Best Country Recording for his album, “A Miner’s Prayer.”

James was also nominated in the Best New Artist and Best Video Concept categories.

The album almost never got off the ground when James mistook award-winning Nashville producer Kenny Royster for a telemarketer and hung up on him.

But Royster called back.  

James laughs when he recalls apologizing to Royster and asking, “Can we start this conversation over?”

The album was recorded in Nashville. “We went down there, recorded the project, came back, released it the following June, and almost immediately we started gaining some amazing recognition,” said James.

James said he was in awe the first time he heard his song, “A Miner’s Prayer,” on the radio. 

“For the first time ever, it wasn’t me playing it on a CD. I was tuned in to a radio station and I got to hear my song… for the very first time,” said James.

James said the song immediately blew up. “The Indigenous Music Countdown caught on to it and debuted my song at number 38,” he said.

“It made its way all the way to the Top 20,” said James. “I ended up releasing three singles off that album so far and we’re not done releasing — but all three singles made it to Number One on the Independent Music Countdown here in Canada,” he explained.

‘My mom deserved to share that moment’

James said his father died just before he recorded the album and the loss was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to face. At the awards ceremony in Niagara Falls, New York, rather than running up on stage to make his acceptance speech, James ran out of the room to call his mother.

“Seeing that I only had one parent left, I really felt like my mom deserved to share that moment with me more than anybody in this world,” said James. 

James sums up how he feels about his recent recognition by saying that “it’s just such an incredible feeling to know that all these countless hours and work and time and money and effort that you put in, you never really know if it’s actually going to pay off, and to have that validated in front of a sold out show is just a remarkable feeling.”

Matt James, who lives in Sudbury and has roots in Mattagami First Nation, recently won the award for Best Country/Americana Recording for his album A Miner’s Prayer. 6:41

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