The winners of the Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA) were announced last night at a gala event in Calgary. Hosted by Shelagh Rogers (CBC Radio) and musician Benoit Bourque (La Bottine Souriante/Le Vent du Nord), Canada’s folk community came together after a bustling weekend of public events, which included an intimate songwriter’s circle, workshops and nominee showcases.
Nineteen award categories were presented at the gala. Overall, Ontario artists received the most awards with seven artists taking home nine awards. British Columbian and Nova Scotian artists followed with four artists winning four awards for each of their provinces. Quebec and Nunavut artists brought home one award each.
Two special awards were handed out during the gala. Manitoba-based industry stalwart Mitch Podolak was honoured by his folk community peers as this year’s Unsung Hero, a special award that highlights the exceptional contributions of an individual, group, or organization to the Canadian folk music scene. Victoria’s Daniel Lapp is the recipient of the Folk Music Canada’s Innovator Award for his work as a teacher, leader and song collector. Launched in 2012, the Innovator Award is dedicated to recognizing a new and innovative approach that has had a significant impact on Canadian folk music.
The raucous instrumentalists Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything (pronounced Chair-on) led the pack of winners, receiving the award for Instrumental Group of the Year as well as the Pushing the Boundaries award. The group, appropriately described as “Tom Waits playing the fiddle, backed up by the Mahavishnu Orchestra” features Charles James, Dan Stadnicki, John Williams, Robbie Grunwald and is helmed by Jaron Freeman-Fox on a five string violin. David Travers-Smith also received the Producer of the Year award for his work on their self-titled record as well as his efforts on Ruth Moody’s These Wilder Things.
The Good Lovelies, an all female trio who are much loved for their beautiful vocal harmonies, received two awards for Ensemble of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year for their latest album Live at Revolution (captured at Revolution Recording’s state-of-the-art studios in downtown Toronto.)
Nova Scotia’s Mo Kenney was named New/Emerging Artist of the Year for her folk-pop self-titled debut, produced by Canadian rock hero Joel Plaskett. Much-lauded carpenter-turned-singer David Francey, known for his poetic lyrics won English Songwriter of the Year for his record So Say We All. Simone Records’ Dany Placard took home French Songwriter of the Year for Démon Vert, his most ambitious and vulnerable record to date.
Canadian songwriter Lynn Miles took home Solo Artist of the Year for Downpour, a remarkable collection of music celebrating our fragile, flawed and beautiful world. Toronto’s Justin Rutledge’s California-imbued Valleyheart was named Contemporary Album of the Year. Halifax’s Ian Sherwood won for Contemporary Singer of the Year for Live At The Hive, a collection of songs that came to light due to what he describes as a “prolific broken heart.”
Cape Breton’s Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac embraced Nova Scotian tradition, winning Traditional Album of the Year for their album Seinn (pronounced shine.) Putting British Columbia’s Cariboo region on the map, Pharis Romero won in the Traditional Singer of the Year category for her silvery vocals on Long Gone Out West Blues with her husband Jason Romero.
Nancy Mike from The Jerry Cans won for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year for Nunavuttitut. The band’s mixture of throat singing, country and reggae came together in the long dark Iqaluit winters. Jorge Miguel (pronounced Hor-hay Me-guel) was named World Solo Artist of the Year for his exquisite album Guitarra Flamenca/Flamenco Guitar while Jaffa Road won World Group of the Year for their album Where The Light Gets In. The band (Aaron Lightstone, Aviva Chernick, Chris Gartner, Jeff Wilson, Sundar Viswanathan) pull together a fusion of music and inspiration from the varied worlds of Jewish music.
Royal Conservatory of Music alumni Kierah won the Young Performer of the Year for her exuberant collection of Celtic fiddle music, titled Stonemason’s Daughter. Described as “a spellbindingly precocious talent” by the Guardian newspaper, Nova Scotia fiddler Chrissy Crowley was crowned Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year. Comox Valley’s Helen Austin was awarded Children’s Album of the Year for the buoyant Always Be A Unicorn.
Established by Canada’s burgeoning and internationally recognized folk music community, the Canadian Folk Music Awards is currently its 9th year. The 2014 edition will take place in Ottawa, Canada. For more information, visit folkawards.ca.