East Coast Music Awards celebrate the best of the region with live music in Fredericton
FREDERICTON — Music filled the Aitken Center in Fredericton Thursday night as the East Coast Music Awards unfolded in front of a live audience for the first time since 2019.
“Covid may have shut down the music industry, but it never stopped music,” host Maestro Fresh Wes told the audience. “It never stopped the creativity, it never stopped the will to keep moving forward.”
The annual awards ceremony is a celebration of singers, songwriters and musicians from across the Atlantic Provinces.
Awards CEO Andy McLean said nothing could replace the gathering and live music on stage.
“It’s about bringing fans back to live music and celebrating the amazing place we live in and the amazing music coming out of this area,” McLean said.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to each artist and industry professional, as well as our staff, contractors and partners, who have organized this incredible event after two years online.”
Halifax pop group Hillsburn took both album of the year and group recording of the year honors with their latest recording ‘Slipping Away’.
Band member Rosanna Burrill said the album was a band effort, but credited Paul Aarntzen for writing all the songs.
Justin Fancy from Newfoundland won the Fans’ Choice Artist of the Year award.
“I started this journey a long time ago,” he said. “But I decided to start a recording career during a pandemic.”
Fancy said much of the recording process was done remotely.
The evening included live performances from many of the nominees and special guest performances from Lisa Leblanc and Patsy Gallant.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs presented Gallant with the Achievement in Director Award.
There was also a tribute to Acadian songwriting as 1755 performed their newly inducted Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame song “Le monde a bien change”.
Chloé Breault had this year the French record of the year with “Plage des morons”.
Morgan Toney won Indigenous Artist of the Year and Kelly McMichael’s “Waves” was Rock Recording of the Year.
“Releasing an album during a pandemic was an interesting experience,” McMichael said. “It’s been a tough two years.”
Other winners include Quote the Raven with Contemporary/Roots Recording of the Year for “Can’t Hold the Light”.
“We’ve always struggled with what genre we are, and we’re still not sure. Sometimes our songs are a little pop and sometimes they’re a little country, but I think we’re rooted in the roots, so it’s is important to us,” said Kirsten Rodden-Clarke as she accepted the award with Jordan Coaker.
The award for African-Canadian Artist of the Year went to Zamani. Accepting the award, she said it was a special honor and thanked the fans for coming to her shows.
Fan Choice Video of the Year honors went to Mallory Johnson and Twin Kennedy for “Wise Woman.”
One8tea captured Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year for “Ventilation 2,” while Andrew Waite’s self-titled album was Solo Recording of the Year.
“That’s pretty cool,” Waite said.
Song of the Year honors went to Breagh Isabel for “Girlfriends” and Dylan Menzie for “A Heart that Doesn’t Want Mine.”
And Rube & Rake was named songwriter of the year.
On Sunday, the festival’s honorary prizes will be awarded during a lunch. Cutting Crew will receive the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to the awards ceremony, ECMA’s program includes performances on 14 stages around the city, as well as other industry events.
Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO Krista Ross said it would mean $3-6 million in business for the city.
“Businesses see a lot of people coming to restaurants, bars, staying in hotels, etc.,” she said.
“There’s a financial impact, for sure. But on top of that, I think there’s a real impact on how people feel, and having that positive vibe is really encouraging and supportive for the business community. .”
The calendar of events wraps up Sunday afternoon with the Songwriters’ Circle at the Fredericton Playhouse.
Organizers have announced that Halifax will host the 35th annual East Coast Music Awards in 2023.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 5, 2022.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press