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Alexandria rock artist Mena Hardy hopes her new single 'Man I Love' will help bring the plight of Indigenous communities into the mainstream. Submitted Photo

Alexandria artist’s new single combines southern rock style with Indigenous influences

Alexandria rock artist Mena Hardy is receiving an enthusiastic response for her latest release, which melds her Southern Rock style with Indigenous influences.

Hardy’s new single Man I Love – the first track released from her upcoming EP ‘No More Stolen Sisters’ – combines her musical style with a spiritual and emotional connection to Indigenous culture. The full EP is planned for release in January 2022.

The debut single tells the story of love and a friend who took their own lives. The issue of suicide is one which is echoed across Indigenous communities throughout Canada. Hardy hopes her recording will bring the plight of Indigenous communities into the mainstream, as well as attract others to learn more about their culture.

“I want to focus on getting this video and this song heard by as many ears as possible,” Hardy said from her home in Alexandria. “I want the world to see the cultural and spiritual beauty that the Indigenous community has to offer.”

The artist began the crossover project with the native community in January of 2020, however it was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as she sat at home in Alexandria, Hardy decided it was time to get back to work on music.

“I thought ‘this is a great time to record’, so I did,” she recalls, noting there were a number of obstacles to cutting a new record. “Typically you have a studio, there’s a producer there, you choose the musicians.”

“With COVID that wasn’t an option, so we not only had to find musicians that we wanted to play on the record, but they had to have their own recording facilities.”

Hardy recorded her tracks at home in Alexandria, while guitar and bass were added by producer Mark Muir. Roy Nichol of April Wine played drums and recorded in his own studio.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, Hardy and her all-star female band The Stellas have been unable to perform together for more than a year. As a result, the southern rock siren has been forced to adapt her live performances as well – playing mostly local shows as a solo performer, or as a duo with one other musician.

“That’s OK – I was playing solo shows before, so I’m used to it,” said the artist. “When I’m not able to play with the band, or they don’t have the budget for the band, I’ve always been open to playing solo.”

“It’s a different dimension of myself. It’s a different sound, but it’s fun and it’s cool.”

Hardy has been buoyed by the positive response to ‘Man I Love’ from both the mainstream media and from Indigenous radio stations, including CFWE in Edmonton and MBC radio in Toronto. The song has also been picking up steam at radio stations across Canada and more stations are expected to add it to their playlists over the next few weeks.

“The song was only released a couple of weeks ago, and commercial radio stations generally take a few weeks to decide whether to play a new song or not,” Hardy explains. “I’m expecting an add this week at CKOA (Nova Scotia), and CBC Radio and some others, but that will take the next few weeks of tracking and me promoting the song.”

For the music video, the singer recruited local Indigenous people from Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. It was filmed and directed by Shatekaronhiàse Skies, owner of Equal Skies Media and features Feryn King, Steven Thompson-Oakes and Aimee Benedict, who is also from Akwesasne.

Pamela Cumming provided the violin, while on flute was Duncan Gillis. Steve McAlear, from Cornwall, added Native percussion.

“McAlear and Muir had to reinvent the wheel – as for the native percussion sounds they came up with on keyboard; McAlear turned a snare (drum) over and used brushes; he used native hand drum,” Hardy recalls. “He had to be really creative to get the sound we wanted, which was perfect for the song and it really worked out.”

Hardy has always been able to overcome obstacles in her way, a trait she says has only been strengthened during the pandemic.

“I think my resiliency as a person has helped me through this whole journey,” she says. “I keep on falling (and landing) on my feet – I’ll lose an opportunity and get a better opportunity.”

“I’m going with the flow in terms of working through the pandemic. Other doors had to open for me and they’re better. It’s been a very awesome experience.”

Hardy is looking to get this single circulated to as many radio stations as possible and is looking to continue working with the native community in the future.

“It is a culture and community that I have developed the utmost love and admiration for,” says the artist, who will be giving a speech at this year’s Truth and Reconciliation event on September 30 at Lamoureux Park in Cornwall. “I hope to use my skills in entertainment and advocacy to shed more light on their ongoing struggles, especially the issue of the missing and murdered”.

More information on Mena Hardy can be found by visiting her website.

 

Mena Hardy and the Stellas. Submitted photo

Reid Masson

Reid Masson is a graduate of Algonquin College's Journalism Program. He has over 20 years of experience as a staff writer and editor for various newspapers across Canada, including The Ottawa Citizen and Brockville Recorder and Times.

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