NAIT Celebrates

Arlo Maverick receives the Alumni Award of Excellence for his support of the community and achievements as an award-winning musician, promoter and filmmaker.

Arlo Maverick

NAIT Celebrates Arlo Maverick

From radio to the Junos, Maverick has helped hip hop thrive in the capital region

“For me, it's being that bigger brother to artists that are coming up, being that go-to person, that’s rewarding because I know what it's like to be in a situation where you don't have those resources.”

It’s Arlo Maverick’s mission to elevate Edmonton’s hip-hop music scene.

Since his humble beginnings as a volunteer DJ in the early 2000s, Maverick has become an award-winning musician, promoter and filmmaker. Among his most prized accolades is a 2023 Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for his mentorship and advocacy of emerging Edmonton artists.

The self-proclaimed “man of many hats who just happens to rap” is proud of the efforts he’s made, locally and nationally. That work has advanced equity and built a diverse and inclusive network for Albertan hip-hop artists – something he says didn’t exist when he started his career.

“I stayed in Edmonton to help build something that many see as impossible,” he says.

Elevating local artists

Maverick’s commitment to supporting local artists goes back to his days at CJSR, where he had the tedious task organizing the music library. The station later took notice of Maverick’s rising presence in Edmonton’s music scene, earning him a role as host on Urban Hang Suite, a show that went live in 2000.

On the air for 13 years, he used that platform, along with a column in a local entertainment paper to showcase urban music alongside independent Canadian artists.

“I would mix local hip-hop artists in with the bigger artists at the time, because at the end of the day, I believe that a true DJ is able to introduce music to people,” Maverick says.

In 2002, he cofounded an independent urban music record label, Music for Mavericks Entertainment. He and his business partner envisioned creating “a viable music industry in Edmonton to promote and showcase artists.” The label released 14 albums – five of them nominated for Western Canadian Music Awards.

Throughout his career, Maverick has shared resources available to up-and-coming artists. He created a YouTube how-to series for those looking to make their way in the industry, covering everything from applying for grants to getting music onto streaming services.

He’s also provided one-on-one mentorship, workshops and discussion panels at Edmonton schools and non-profit organizations.

“It’s about helping young people develop social skills so, as they get older and try to navigate through the world, they can understand that it’s okay to speak up, be assertive and share your ideas,” he says.

Maverick himself has been a creative fixture in the city’s hip-hop scene, building a career that has seen him tour three continents and earn spots on music charts across Canada. Since releasing his debut album Maybe Tomorrow in 2016 (which landed at number 20 on CMJ’s Top 50 Hip Hop Albums), his body of work has earned him several nods from industry, including Edmonton Music Awards. Most recently, he’s been shortlisted for the 2024 Edmonton Music Prize.

He’s worked to make a deeper impact with his music as well, writing songs that often shines a light on pressing social issues, and audiences took note. The video for his song Hashtag (January 2022), for example, highlighted the problem of police brutality. It played at film festivals around the world.

A “voice at the table”

Maverick credits NAIT’s Marketing program for the business and marketing fundamentals he used to promote himself and his label. It also helped him bring together a network of artists, industry experts and resources.

“My journey has been very much about building community,” Maverick says. “And also creating opportunities, whether it be for myself or other people, through my skill sets, through my education, through my business understanding.”

A member of Edmonton Music Awards Advisory Board and the Juno’s Rap Advisory Committee, Maverick has used his experiences and influence to help guide industry to be more inclusive of Black music. Given his unique position of being on the ground with struggling artists, and being respected at a national level, he understands that having a seat at the table means bringing more exposure to the diverse artists in Western Canada.

“We just have to keep on talking and have that voice at the table,” Maverick says. “Never give up and be loud.”

Story photos supplied by Arlo Maverick.

Alumni Award of Excellence

The Alumni Award of Excellence recognizes the significant contributions made in recent years by NAIT alumni to their profession or community.  

More 2024 NAIT Celebrates Recipients

Champions, community-builders, mentors, visionaries and leaders make up the 2024 NAIT Celebrates award recipients. Read more about the lasting impact each has made through their spirit, dedication and generosity.

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Ray Pisani

Ray Pisani is named the Distinguished Friend of the Institute for his outstanding contributions to our polytechnic and impact in the community.

Robyn Dawson

Robyn Dawson receives the Distinguished Alumni Award for helping Alberta businesses and communities thrive as a leader in media planning and buying.

Marcie Kiziak

Marcie Kiziak receives the Alumni Award of Excellence for her advocacy of women’s success in business, and her leadership as the CEO of NOVA Cannabis.

Shreya Nandiraju

Shreya Nandiraju receives the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award for her success and leadership in the engineering and automation fields.

Priya Winsor

Priya Winsor receives the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award for her career achievements as founder of Compass Chocolates and for her support for the community.

2025 Award Nominations

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