Maestro Fresh Wes Named First Hip-Hop Recipient Of Governor General’s Performing Arts Award

Meanwhile, Measha Brueggergosman-Lee is the first Black artist recognized in the classical music field.

Maestro Fresh Wes

Maestro Fresh Wes

Courtesy Photo

For the first time in its history, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement is honouring a Canadian hip-hop artist. The worthy recipient is Toronto rapper and actor Maestro Fresh Wes (Wes Williams), who has just been named as one of the five 2024 laureates for the award, which recognizes Canadians who have made a lasting contribution to cultural life in Canada and internationally.

In a short acceptance speech, Williams said, "I'm excited and thrilled to be getting this award. I must have done something right! I just want to say I appreciate being appreciated!"

This year’s other laureates are:


  • Alberta-born puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2019.
  • Tony Award-winning American-Canadian comedic actor Andrea Martin, to be inducted this weekend into the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame with the cast of SCTV.
  • Montreal singer-songwriter/pianist Diane Juster, named as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2016.
  • Operettic soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee, a Fredericton native now based in Nova Scotia. She is the first Black artist to receive the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in the classical music field.

Maestro Fresh Wes released his debut album, Symphony in Effect in 1989, a landmark moment in early Canadian hip-hop history. . Symphony in Effect was at the forefront of Canada’s early hip-hop movement and its anthemic track "Let Your Backbone Slide" was the first Canadian rap record ever to chart on the Billboard Top 40 and, in 2019, it became the first rap song to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Williams later branched into acting in film and television and works as a motivational speaker, but has continued to record. He recently received a Juno Award nomination in the children’s album category, for Maestro Fresh Wes Presents: Young Maestro Stick To Your Vision For Young Athletes.

It was also announced that the participants in the 2024 mentorship program will be Inuk singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark (a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award recipient in 2016) and her protégée Angela Amarualik, a musician from Nunavut.

The 2024 GGPAA Gala takes place on June 8, at the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall in Ottawa.

AP Dhillon smashing his guitar at Coachella

AP Dhillon smashing his guitar at Coachella


AP Dhillon Drops Off Coachella's Second Weekend

The Punjabi-Canadian star has faced backlash in Indian media and on social media for his guitar smash on weekend one, but the festival says he's cancelling due to scheduling conflicts.

AP Dhillon is leaving the California desert behind. Coachella announced that the Punjabi-Canadian star will not appear at the festival's second weekend as planned, citing scheduling conflicts. The festival announced it in a follow up tweet to one announcing that rapper Kid Cudi has been added.

While Dhillon's first-weekend performance was well-received by the Coachella crowd and many of his supporters, he's also had some backlash due to how he closed his set, which has been widely covered by media in India.

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