Country Music Week counts down to the Canadian Country Music Awards on Sunday

Scarlett Butler performs on the rooftop of King Eddy for the launch of Canadian Country Music Week in Calgary on Wednesday, September 7, 2022. Calgary hosts the Canadian Country Music Awards on Sunday, September 11. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Calgary is poised to once again become the ultimate host city for country music fans across the country, at least according to the organizers of the Canadian Country Music Awards.

The city is hosting the awards for a record 10th time, while simultaneously marking the 40th anniversary of the CCMAs.

Ahead of the awards show on Sunday, Calgarians will have the chance to host more than 60 performers at 16 venues as part of the CCMA Off-Country Festival. There is no cover charge for any of the musical shows this year.

“It will be an incredible four days of country music as we bring together the biggest and brightest stars from across the country,” said CCMA Organizing Committee Chair Ben Graham.

New to Calgary this year is more venues for the Off-Country festival than in 2019, the last time Calgary hosted the CCMAs. Festival week welcomes an increased number of local, emerging, women in song and Indigenous artists performing this year.

Artists and bands performing as part of Off-Country include The Frontiers, Emma Peterson, Jess Knights, Ava Wild, Cold Little Crow and the First Nations Arts Alliance.

A complete list of Off-Country Music Festival artists, locations, dates and times can be found at ccma.org/country-music-week/off-country.

Country Music Week also hosts fan events including songwriter sessions with artists such as Jason Benoit, Aaron Goodvin, Nate Haller, Don Amero, Kyle McKearney and Dean Brody.

On September 8, CCMA is hosting a Legends Show at the Martha Cohen Theater. It will host Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee George Fox alongside legendary musicians such as George Canyon, Patricia Conroy, Doc Walker and Jade Eagleson.

The CCMA awards ceremony will take place at the Saddledome on September 11. The broadcast begins nationwide at 7 p.m. Albertans Gord Bamford and Brett Kissel will be joined by some of the biggest names in Canadian country music for the ceremony.

Tickets for the Canadian Country Music Awards are available online at ccma.org.

Multi-million boost to Calgary economy

Tourism Calgary provided an estimate that the CCMA and associated festival activities would generate $12 million in economic benefits for the city.

“Events like this have helped promote not only the Canadian music scene, but also the long-term growth and stability of Alberta’s music industry,” said Tanya Fir, Minister of Employment, Alberta Economy and Innovation.

Speaking at the launch of Country Music Week on Wednesday, she said the province is providing $1.6 million in grants to CCMAs.

“This is a great opportunity for Albertans to celebrate the Canadian country music industry and for visitors and guests to explore what Calgary and Alberta have to offer when not attending CCMA activities. Fir said.

“Country music is in our roots, and I know Alberta is ready to welcome country music talent and fans from across the country.”

The awards ceremony and associated activities are expected to attract over 6,000 people to the city.

The awards and associated events are supported by over 130 volunteers, many of whom signed up to help within 15 minutes of being called by the organizing committees.

CCMAs represent the changing face of tourism for Calgary

Jeff Hessel, senior vice president of marketing for Tourism Calgary, said Country Music Week and its associated events are very important to the city’s tourism partners.

“It was very important for the host committee to not only bring the CCMAs in with their events, but also to make sure that as many businesses and artists could benefit as much as possible,” Hessel said.

“The Host Committee’s Legacy Committee has done a great job putting together a whole bunch of different programs to make this happen, the biggest being Off-Country.”

He said it would activate all quadrants of the city. This ensures that the $12 million in economic spinoffs are not just centralized downtown.

“It takes a bit of effort to try to make sure we incorporate the quadrants, to let people know that there are things in the quadrants, and that takes some effort,” Hessel said.

“So we’re very grateful to the legacy committee for all the work they’ve done in having these conversations and making these things happen.”

Hessel said the past few years of Covid-19 have had a significant impact on Tourism Calgary’s more than 950 partners. Having live music during County Music Week was one way, he said, to activate locations across the city and generate lasting consumer demand.

“What we’re seeing is that some of the old ways we might have done things – bundles, discounts, passes, etc. – aren’t really working very well, or at least not for partners to at this point, because they are, they need to earn money and income and get back on their feet,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is that the programming and activation work, and we just find ways to activate their locations and bring excitement.”

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