Music News

Music News Digest: The Country Music Association of Ontario Announces CMAOntario Award Winners

Also covered in our weekly roundup of news are the Four Chords and the Truth series, a Dave Bidini solo show, Chris McKhool and The Scenics.

Owen Riegling at the 2024 CMAOntario Awards

Owen Riegling at the 2024 CMAOntario Awards

Grant W. Martin Photography

Awards news

On June 2, The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAOntario) announced the winners of the 12th Annual CMAOntario Awards, presented by Slaight Music and held in Hammerson Hall at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. Heading the list with two wins apiece were Jason Blaine, Owen Riegling and James Barker Band. Winners in 17 categories plus special awards recipients were honoured. Performing were 2024 CMAOntario award winners Riegling, Blaine, Nicole Rayy and Elyse Saunders, and nominees Karli June, Griffen Palmer, River Town Saints, Sugar Crush, Callie McCullough, Ryan Langdon and The Western Swing Authority.

The Award Show was preceded by a weekend of activities in Mississauga as part of the CMAOntario Festival & Awards Weekend,May 31-June 2, including Songs & Stories: Songwriters in the Round, R2i TuneUp Conference, Street Fair, Bonfire and Tailgate Party. The CMAOntario Festival & Awards Weekend will return to Mississauga in 2026. Find the full list of winners below and more on the awards here.


The Winners of the 12th Annual CMAOntario Awards are:

SINGLE OF THE YEAR sponsored by Pure Country
The Road that Raised You Up - Jason Blaine

ALBUM OF THE YEARsponsored by Country 106.7 Kitchener
Greatest Show on Dirt - Meghan Patrick

Jason Blaine, The Road the Raised You Up, recorded by Jason Blaine

FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR sponsored by IBEW Local 353
Elyse Saunders

MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR sponsored by IBEW Local 353
Owen Riegling

GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR sponsored by Country 103
James Barker Band

Shawn Moore

Mackenzie Leigh Meyer

BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST OF THE YEAR sponsored by Slaight Music
Owen Riegling

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR sponsored by Jim Dunlop Productions
Honky Tonkin About - The Reklaws ft. Drake Milligan
Dirty - Nicole Rayy

Dave Woods


Reney Ray

FANS’ CHOICE sponsored by Visit Mississauga
Tim Hicks

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR sponsored by Cithara Guitars
Shane Guse

James Barker Band

Walter Nowakowski

Charlie Major

RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR (LARGE MARKET) sponsored by Fielding Estate Winery
KX 94.7, Hamilton

RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR (MEDIUM MARKET) sponsored by Lucknow’s Music in the Fields
Hot Country 93.9, Brantford

Pure Country 106, Orillia

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre (‘BPAC’) established its Hall of Fame in 2013, and inductees since then have included the internationally acclaimed conductor Boris Brott, and legendary Canadian comedian and broadcaster Gordie Tapp. Just added to the list is local resident and singer-songwriter Chris McKhool, leader of the internationally-acclaimed world music ensemble Sultans of String. McKhool has won seven Canadian Folk Music Awards and multiple other awards, and earned four Juno nominations. McKhool’s induction was announced at the 2024-2025 ‘BPAC Presents’ Season Launch.

Amongst the many awards handed out at Canadian Music Week this year, one stands out for this scribe. At the RadioDays North America Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, my longtime comrade in ink (and fellow Billboard Canada contributor) David Farrell was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by CMW. It was fitting that the much-deserved honour for the veteran music trade journalist and editor was bestowed by Gary Slaight and CMW head Neill Dixon, two key contributors to Farrell's career. Congrats David.


This year’s Polaris Music Prize Long List Announcement event, presented by Canada Council for the Arts, will take place on June 11 at Sonic Boom Records in Toronto. It will name the 40 nominated albums selected by the 200+ jurors for the prestigious and lucrative prize. That Long List will then be whittled down to 10 Short List finalists.The announcement video will kick-off at 6 pm PM ET.


Industry news

The critically acclaimed Canadian “in the semi-round” songwriter series, Four Chords and the Truth, makes its New York City debut at City Winery on June 10, with a talent-packed lineup. That comprises Juno-winning country singer-songwriter Tenille Townes, hit songwriter Lowell (co-writer of Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” and the Beaches’ “Blame Brett," amongst others) , Nova Scotian folk artist Dave Gunning, emerging songwriter Stacey Ryan, and Four Chords founder/curator/host, songwriter Andrea England. Of note: Lowell was just honoured at Billboard Canada's Power Players event with the inaugural Billboard Canada Non-Performing Songwriter Award.

Applications for Music Nova Scotia's Export Accelerator program are now open. This is designed to help artists from the province showcase at a number of national and international music conferences and events, including, in fall and winter 2024, ITCH, A3C, Folk Music Ontario, Come Together and Viva Sounds The deadline to apply is 3 weeks prior to the festival start date. More info here.

A capacity crowd at The Capitol in Hamilton revelled in a solo matinee performance by much-lauded indie rock singer-songwriter and author Dave Bidini, a Lou Molinaro Presents show). Always an engaging performer, he delivered a well-crafted set comprising eloquent solo Bidiniband originals alongside versions of tunes by the Rheostatics, the band with whom he remains most closely associated ("Legal Age Life At Variety Store" was a set highlight). In his very literate tunes, Bidini brought characters like ill-fated NHL star Bryan Fogarty and Moncton racers to life, and one song detailing life on the road in a band drew laughter. No surprise that the attentive audience was full of such local musicians as Tom and Thompson Wilson, Martin Verrall, Dean Fulton and Darryl Gould (who opened). A fun afternoon.


Interest in the original Toronto punk scene remains high, and one of its key players, The Scenics, have just released a new collection of 10 songs they recorded back in 1976, with eight never having been released. New Part In Town can best be described as proto-punk, and it it shows the band as being heavily influenced by pioneers of the form. A 9-minute version of Television classic "Little Johnny Jewel" is included, and there's song entitled "Jonathan Richman." The group was built around the songs of vocalists and songwriters Ken Badger (guitarist) and Andy Meyers (bass), and this album has a refreshingly adventurous sound. More archive material is believed to be coming next year.

Shaq’s Classic Song ‘You Can’t Stop the Reign’ Featuring Biggie Is Finally on Streaming Services
Rb Hip Hop

Shaq’s Classic Song ‘You Can’t Stop the Reign’ Featuring Biggie Is Finally on Streaming Services

There's a more explicit Biggie verse in the vault, according to the NBA legend.

Shaq’s classic with Biggie is finally available on streaming services. The news was broken by FakeShoreDrive on X earlier this week, and the Hall of Fame big man confirmed the news Thursday afternoon (June 13).

The year is 1996 and Shaquille O’Neal and the Notorious B.I.G. are two of the biggest figures in their respective fields. Shaq was entering the last year of his deal with the Orlando Magic before he headed west to the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the 1995-1996 season. Biggie was getting ready to release his sophomore album, Life After Death, while in the throws of a beef with 2Pac. Big name-dropped the NBA player on the song “Gimme the Loot” off his debut album, Ready to Die, and the two had a mutual respect for each other ever since.

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