It’s CMAO Monday so I thought it would be fun to dedicate this week’s edition of Monday Musings to discuss my picks for the third annual event. I should mention that I personally am not a member of the Country Music Association of Ontario, yet, so my picks have not influenced the outcome of tonight’s awards.
Firstly I want to congratulate everyone that made either of the ballots, we know exactly what you are up against and to make it to a list of the top 100, or so, is a huge honour. To those that made the final ballot we salute you, you have all brought something special to Country Music in the province of Ontario.
Looking over the list of nominees I see a lot of familiar names, people that have become good friends and supporters of ours here at Sound Check Entertainment so to me you’re all winners in my books. But in the end I can only pick one person per category.
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by Republic Live – Boots & Hearts Festival)
This is a tough category, I’m a huge fan of all of these songs but in the end the one that keeps finding it’s way back onto my playlist is “Blame” – Autumn Hill and “Country Side” – Jason Blaine would be my runner up.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by HMV Canada)
I’m happy to say I own all of the albums in this category but this one is a bit easier for me to pick. One of my favourite albums of 2015 would have to be Anchor by Autumn Hill. Pistology by the Small Town Pistols would be my runner up in this category.
SONGWRITER(S) OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by SOCAN)
I’m a big fan of songwriters, far too often they go unrecognized but it’s the songwriter that dreams up the lyrics to some of our favourite songs. This one is very difficult to narrow down to one but my vote would have to go to Jason Blaine and Deric Ruttan for their smash hit “Country Side”, runner up goes to our friend Tebey for his incredibly catchy tune “When The Buzz Wears Off”
FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by Spring Tree Farm)
The women in country are red hot right now, especially here in Canada. This category is set to get even more difficult for next year’s awards if the crop of emerging female artists we have this year is any indication. For me this year I’m going to have to go with Kira Isabella. Kira has consistently grown her sound and style and is one of the top female artists in Canada right now. Runner up for me would have to be the lovely Leah Daniels who is as humble as she is talented.
MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
This is an incredibly tough category. I’ve had the luxury of getting to know Tim Hicks, Jason Blaine and Tebey over the last few years and they are all incredible people. I’ve also had the chance to see Johnny Reid live on two occasions and from a performance only factor he’s unmatched. If I could give this award to all 4 artists I would but in this case I have to go with Johnny Reid. He’s touched my soul, and the souls of countless fans across Canada, on more than one occasion this past year and that alone makes him deserving of this award. I’m going to go with Jason Blaine as my runner up in this category.
GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by The Remington Group)
Another category filled with friends that I have worked with over the past few years but there is no question where my vote goes…Autumn Hill is and has been my favourite duo in Country music since I first heard them at Boots and Hearts #2. My runner up in this category has to be Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson of the Small Town Pistols.
ROOTS ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by Skelton Truck Lines Ltd.)
Roots Artist or Group is a tough category for me. It’s not an area of country music I’m as strongly connected to as others but there are two acts that have stood out for me in the past year. The Lovelocks have been phenomenal supporters of ours and are an incredibly talented duo. I remember Ali Rainey from when I first started Sound Check Entertainment way back at the Capital HoeDown where Ali was a member of Tara Oram’s band. The Lovelocks were formed shortly thereafter. So they get my vote. The Western Swing Authority takes runner up.
RISING STAR AWARD
(sponsored by Slaight Music)
Again very tough category here but my vote for Rising Star goes to Cory Marquardt with Cold Creek County taking runner up.
(sponsored by Ontario Media Development Corporation)
For Fans’ choice Tim Hicks will almost certainly win, he’s been the hands down fan favourite for a long time now and that’s where my vote goes as well. Autumn Hill is my runner up.
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“A Picture of You” – Johnny Reid takes the video of the year category for me, it’s such an incredible song and emotional video. “When the Buzz Wears Off” – Tebey is my runner up.
RECORD PRODUCER(S) OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by MetalWorks Studios)
Jason Blaine & Deric Ruttan – Country Side by Jason Blaine
runner up – Tebey & Danick Dupelle – When The Buzz Wears Off/Jealous Of The Sun by Tebey
RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR (MAJOR MARKET)
(sponsored by Canadian Country Spotlight)
I have no idea how this category will go but I know from an Ottawa perspective I know that CKKL-FM (New Country 94), Ottawa has done so much for the country music scene in the past year that they deserve this honour. Runner up for me would be either of the two KX stations for the incredible support they have shown Sound Check over the past year especially with the upcoming Fort McMurray benefit.
RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR (SECONDARY MARKET)
(sponsored by Lucknow’s Music in the Fields)
The station behind Manitoulin Country Fest, CFRM-FM (Country 103), Little Current, is almost certain to win this category with CHVR-FM 96.7 (Star 96FM), Pembroke being my second choice.
I will be at the CMAO Awards tonight so be sure to follow Sound Check Entertainment on social media for live coverage all night long. We’ll be Live on Facebook and Periscope from the Red Carpet starting around 6:30pm.
Best of luck to all of the nominees, you are all winners in my books!
Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @hendrikpape