The Country Music Association of Ontario brought the 7th annual CMAOntario Awards to the stages of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa this past weekend.
Beginning with a classic songwriter’s circle, Friday night’s Songs and Stories brought together a panel whose experiences spanned Ontario, Canada and even into the US. Hosted by the wildly funny, Wendell Ferguson, Detroit-raised and Blake Shelton hitmaker, JT Harding, joined Ottawa’s own, Kelly Prescott, Sudbury’s Andrew Hyatt, and Vancouver’s Chris Buck in performing and discussing the stories behind some of their most popular songs.
Saturday saw the start of the Road to Independence Conference, which saw meaningful discussions about topics such as writer’s block and even a segment featuring the Rock Doctor, Mike Schwartz, who walked the audience through exercises to help performers relax and battle anxiety when on the road and dealing with the business of music.
Ottawa’s Sparks Street Mall brought the party into the heart of downtown Ottawa. Although it began on a rainy note, the New Faces Showcase and Concert attracted music fans and curious tourists alike to see powerful and lively performances by Owen Barney, Francophone Artist of the Year nominees, Les Rats D’Swampe, Rising Star nominees Brad James and Kris Barclay, Danielle Bourjeaurd, a special performance by former River Town Saints singer, Chris Labelle, and Roots Artist of the Year, the Abrams.
In the sunny Sunday afternoon hours leading up to the awards ceremony, the show continued on Sparks Street with Legacy Revival; which put the spotlight on legends of Ontario country. Family was in full focus started the show, with Ottawa Valley favourites, Randall Prescott and Tracy Brown were joined by daughter, Kelly Prescott, in a fitting Father’s Day tribute. Further performances included the most successful independent country singer-songwriter, Jamie Warren, Sudbury’s Gil Grand, and Alymer, QC’s Charlie Major, who recalled stories of busking in the very spot on Sparks Street the stage was built.
Following Legacy Revival, the official Tailgate Party began with performances by 2019 OCMAward nominees Tianna Woods, Kansas Stone, Leah Daniels, and Jade Eagleson.
The weekend culminated with the presentation of the 2019 CMAOntario Awards inside the NAC’s Southam Hall. Hosted by Road Hammers guitarist and radio DJ, Jason McCoy, Meghan Patrick was the biggest winner of the night, as she accepted awards for Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (which she shared with Kelly Archer and Justin Weaver), Music Video of the Year and Fans’ Choice. The ceremony saw the debut of the Francophone Artist or Group of the Year; which was given to Bourget, ON’s, Gabrielle Goulet. The Holly & Steve Kassay Spirit Award was presented to Cadence Grace, while Jim Cuddy honoured the Good Brothers with the Impact Award for their almost 50 years of inspiring Canadian musicians of all stripes.
The 2020 CMAOntario Awards and Festival will head to London, Ontario for the third time.
2019 CMAOntario Awards Winners
Single of the Year – “Feels Like That” – The Reklaws
Album of the Year – Country Music Made Me Do It – Meghan Patrick
Songwriter(s) of the Year – “Walls Come Down” – Meghan Patrick, Kelly Archer, Justin Weaver (Meghan Patrick)
Female Artist of the Year – Meghan Patrick
Male Artist of the Year – Tim Hicks
Group of the Year – The Reklaws
Roots Artist or Group of the Year – The Abrams
Francophone Artist or Group of the Year – Gabrielle Goulet
Rising Star – Jade Eagleson
Music Video of the Year – “Walls Come Down” – Meghan Patrick
Fans’ Choice – Meghan Patrick
Record Producer of the Year – Jeff Dalziel (Ryan Langdon, “Leave Me Right”; The Washboard Union, “What We’re Made Of”)
Industry Person of the Year – Ron Kitchener, RGK Entertainment
Radio Station of the Year (Large Market) – CKBY Country 101.1, Ottawa
Radio Station of the Year (Medium Market) – CHCQ-FM Cool 100.1 FM, Belleville
Radio Station of the Year (Small Market) – CICX PURE COUNTRY 106, Orillia
Nielsen Compass Award – Tim Hicks
Impact Award – The Good Brothers
Holly & Steve Kassay Generous Spirit Award – Cadence Grace
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Born and raised with thoughts and aspirations of becoming a famous bassist in Sarnia, ON; Emily Plunkett now lives in Gatineau, QC, and considers National Capital Region home sweet home. A product of the Beatles, MuchMusic and the Southwestern Ontario summer festival circuit (circa 2000), her interest and love in concert photography came almost completely by accident when her journalism program at Algonquin College required courses in photojournalism (and she quickly realized that photos taken at concerts using a DSLR are enormously better than ones she was taking on a point-and-shoot she bought for a trip to England). She is extremely proud of the fact she has seen Sloan in some form or another 25 times.