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FYI

Music News Digest, March 2, 2023

The 2023 Governor-General’s Performing Arts Awards will honour two veteran vocal stars, kd lang and Molly Johnson, in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in

Music News Digest, March 2, 2023

By Kerry Doole

The 2023 Governor-General’s Performing Arts Awards will honour two veteran vocal stars, kd lang and Molly Johnson, in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, followed by a ticketed gala to be held at the National Arts Centre on May 27. Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, singer Rosemarie Landry, entrepreneur John Kim Bell, and choreographer James Kudelka are also award winners this year. Read more here


– The Polaris Music Prize, presented by CBC Music, has revealed the plans for its 2023 season. It begins with the Prize’s 40 albums Long List announcement on June 13, followed by the 10 albums Short List on July 13. This year’s winning album will be named during the Polaris Gala, happening Sept. 19. This year's Gala moves from its longtime home, The Carlu, and into Massey Hall. The Polaris Music Prize awards $50K to the artist who creates the Canadian album of the year, judged solely on artistic merit, without consideration for genre or record sales. 

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The event season will come to a close with the announcement of two new Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize-winning albums on Oct. 19. This Prize is meant to celebrate classic Canadian albums created before Polaris began in 2006.

– Ghislaine Cormier is 2023’s recipient of the CFMAs annual Unsung Hero Award. The honour recognizes the contributions of people working behind the scenes, often without recognition or adequate recompense, to foster, promote, and encourage Canada’s music and cultural scenes. Cormier has been the executive director of the Fédération culturelle de l'Î.-P.-É. since 2009 and has created and managed several large-scale cultural and tourist projects in PEI. More bio info here.

– This week, SiriusXM Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA), announced the eight semi-finalists vying to be named the 2023 winner of SiriusXM's Top of the Country competition. Each of the semi-finalists now begins recording original tracks in-studio, which will later be shared with Canadian country fans for voting. The field will be narrowed down to the top three, with the eventual winner receiving $25K and the title of the SiriusXM Top of the Country champion. The 2023 semi-finalists are Hailey Benedict, Noah Derksen, Teigen Gayse, Amanda Jordan, Mark Ledlin, The Prairie States, Dayna Reid, and Lydia Sutherland. More info here.

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Festivals news

– POP Montreal & M For Montreal return to SXSW in Austin this month to showcase up-and-coming acts, in partnership with Exclaim! magazine. Their event takes place March 16 at Swan Dive and features a Montreal Cocktail party (for badge-holders only), 6.30-8 pm, followed by the showcase, presented by Quebec Creates (8 pm-2 am). Performing artists include Bells Larsen, Thanya Iyer, Fraud Perry, Chiiild, Kallitechnis, Super Plage, Patrick Holland, Soran, JayWood, Afternoon Bike Ride, Bibi Club, Gus Englehorn, and Meltt.  More info here.

– CIMA will be returning to The New Colossus Festival in New York City from March 8-13. The fest features over 100 artists and bands at various venues across the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This year CIMA has partnered with M for Montreal to present the Canada Block Party on March 9, a networking mixer followed by a full evening of showcases. The event kicks will kick off with the “Bloody Caesar Mixer” from 5 - 7 pm at Arlene’s Grocery (RSVP here), followed by the showcases. CIMA will present artists on the Pianos Stage while M for Montreal hosts the Arlene’s Grocery stage next door. Delegates and industry will be able to jump back and forth between venues to catch the 12 showcasing artists on alternating stages throughout the night.

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CIMA’s Stage at Pianos is presented with showcasing partners Alberta Music, Manitoba Music, MusicBC, MusicOntario, Music Nova Scotia and SaskMusic. The showcasing artists are The Garrys, Mauvey, Keeper E., Miesha & the Spanks, Jane Inc., and Anthony OKS. The lineup for the M for Montreal Stage at Arlene’s Grocery features Naya Ali, Knitting, Marci, Alias, Absolutely Free, and Snotty Nose Rez Kids.

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– The Wavelength Winter Festival 2023 edition is rapidly approaching, and it presents shows at three different Toronto venues throughout the month of March. The first in-person version of the event is curated by Daniel Monkman (Zoon, Ombiigizi), and it kicks off with shows on March 9-11, at 805 Dovercourt. An impressive lineup there on March 9 and 10 features Julie Doiron, Evan Redsky, Lune Tres Belle, Joe Rainey, Sister Ray, and Eve Parker Finley. A March 11 Constellation Records Celebration, Part I, features Jessica Moss, Kee Avil, Rebecca Foon x Light Conductor, Markus Floats, and Glissandro 70. Weekend passes here. A second Constellation Records Celebration is at Danforth Music Hall on March 25, with Do Make Say Think and Jason Sharp, while Deerhoof, Bad Waitress, and Indian Giver are in at TD Music Hall on March 31. More info and tickets are here

– AFROWAVETO, Toronto’s Black multi-genre music presenter and incubator, has announced its Winterwave concert showcase lineup headlined by Canadian pop/rock star Fefe Dobson. This concert takes place on March 4 at the El Mocambo and boasts a strong lineup of Toronto’s rising rap, dancehall, R&B and afrobeat stars of today and tomorrow including; Omega Mighty, Everything OShauN, Trueace, and Bosaboi. Founded in 2019, AFROWAVETO has presented a wide range of concerts in Toronto recently including Grammy Award-winner Sean Paul and Zenesoul. More info here.

Industry news

– CBC News notes, "Veteran East Coast music promoter Greg Clark is revered by local musicians for opportunities he provided them and his passion for live music. Now, people in Halifax's music community are praising the decision to name a Dalhousie University studio after Clark." The studio in the Fountain School of Performing Arts will be used for teaching purposes and for rehearsals and recording. An anonymous donor requested the space be named after Clark, a Halifax music scene fixture for more than two decades beginning in the 1980s.

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Local hero Joel Plaskett tells CBC that around 75 percent of gigs he played in Halifax in the 1990s and the early 2000s were booked by Clark. Venues he ran or booked included Club Flamingo, Waldo's, the Double Deuce Roadhouse, Birdland Cabaret, The Marquee Club and Stage Nine. Clark also had a hand in releasing the 1986 compilation album, Out of the Fog, which featured Halifax bands like Jellyfishbabies and The October Game. The latter band's singer was a teenage Sarah McLachlan. Read more here

– Juno and CCMA Award-winning band The Washboard Union has announced a new distributed label partnership with Universal Music Canada. In a press release,  Adam Abbasakoor, Vice President, Commercial Affairs and Label Partnerships, Universal Music Canada, said UMC  is proud to partner with celebrated country artists, The Washboard Union, to distribute their music to fans around the world. The country-rock outfit releases a new single, I Run On Country, on March 24,  via all streaming platforms.

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– Yesterday (March 1), Universal Music Canada (UMC) and Ishkōdé Records, the artist-led, Indigenous women-owned record label, announced the co-signing of self-produced Indigenous R&B singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Gaskin. Together with Gaskin’s management team at Red Music Rising, UMC and Ishkōdé will collaborate to amplify the stories Gaskin shares while supporting their upcoming releases. Born in Tataskweyak Cree Nation, or Split Lake Manitoba as it is better known, Gaskin has a style that mixes hip-hop, rap, R&B, metal and punk elements.

He is the recipient of the 2021 Western Canadian Music Award for R&B Artist of the Year, the 2021 Kevin Walters Song Writing Award, and was also chosen to attend the 2021 Allan Slaight Juno Masterclass. Gaskin performs alongside Digging Roots, Aysanabee, Amanda Rheaume, and Morgan Toney in an Ishkōdé label showcase, Fire Starter: Songs for the Eighth Fire, tonight (March 2) at Toronto’s Axis Club.

– Today (March 2 - 12.30-2.30 pm), MusicNL is hosting Embrace: International Women's Day Songwriters Circle in celebration of International Women's Day. #EmbraceEquity. The event features The Honourable Pam Parsons, Valmy, Carolina East, Cristina Hernandez, Summer Bennett, and Mackenzie Critch, and is held at  Play On Gower, 99 Queen's Rd. St. John's. MusicNL is accepting donations in support of the Bonavista Women's Shelter. Learn more here.

– As FYI reported, popular Toronto singer/songwriter Freeman Dre recently suffered a brain aneurysm. A GoFundMe campaign to assist his recovery has elicited a generous response, and tonight (March 2) the Drom Taberna venue in Toronto is hosting a fundraiser jam, 7-10 pm, with over 20 musicians participating. Notables include Devin Cuddy, Lemon Bucket Brass, Staig & Billings, and JER. All funds raised are going straight to Dre. 

Artists news

– Folk songwriter Sean Sroka aka Ten Kills the Pack is releasing the final act of his album Thank You For Trying on March 10, to be followed by more touring. The album is notably co-produced with Marcus Paquin (The Weather Station, The National). Here's his current single. More info here.

– Toronto's acclaimed and influential independent music fest Wavelength (see news item above) went on its first trip to Hamilton in a decade last weekend, hosting a free event at the Collective Arts brewery. Performing were hotly-tipped Indigenous rock band Ombiigizi (a favourite of this scribe) and local modern rock faves Ellevator. Those spied enjoying proceedings included Tom and Thompson Wilson and Spectator scribe Graham Rockingham.

– Ontario singer/songwriter Sarah Church launches her new album Letting Go with a March 5 release party (3-7 pm) at The Casbah in Hamilton. Steve Sinnicks opens. Tix here. Read more on Church here.

– African, Jewish and Muslim musical traditions come together when Toronto’s Jubilate Singers and soprano Denise Williams of Walk Together Children join forces for Roots and Intersections., a March 4 evening concert at Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge Street, Toronto. The concert is conducted by Isabel Bernaus. Info here.

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DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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