Music News

Music News Digest: Maple Blues Award Winners, Quebec Rapper Lost joins YouTube's FIFTY DEEP

Plus: The Drake Hotel turns 20, The Canadian Black Music Archive's Black Music Month event and lots more.

Matt Andersen

Matt Andersen accepting a Maple Blues Award

Greg King

New Brunswick bluesman Matt Andersen was the dominant force at the 27th annual Maple Blues Awards, held at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on Monday (Feb. 12). Andersen was the only multi-award winner of the evening, taking home trophies for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.

Other notable winners included Little Magic Sam, Suzie Vinnick, Garrett Mason, Colin James, and Miss Emily, with the Blues With A Feeling (lifetime achievement) Award going to guitar-slinger Sue Foley. Two previously announced winners were Crystal Shawanda for the inaugural Indigenous Artist of the Year, and British Columbia’s Brant Zwicker for Blues Booster of the Year.


Considered the blues music event of the year, the Maple Blues Awards were hosted by Quisha Wint. She also performed, alongside nominees including Blackburn Brothers, Wint, Brandon Isaak, Andersen, Angelina Hunter, and Shawanda, all backed by the new Maple Blues Awards house band, The Maples. Check the winners here.

Festival news

- Tall Pines Music & Arts Festival, a community focused outdoor event in the Muskoka region of Ontario, returns for its third year, at Gull Lake Park July 18-20. The proudly all-Canadian lineup is headed by heavy hitters City and Colour and July Talk, with other acts named including Ila Barker, Spencer Burton, Chloë Doucet. Jin, JJ Wilde, Dan Mangan, Deanna Petcoff, The Sarandons, and The Vaniers. Early bird tickets are on-sale Feb. 15 at

- Produced and hosted by highly-regarded singer/songwriter Andrea Ramolo, Our Music Festival is a new Toronto event designed to celebrate female and gender-diverse artists. It will be launched at Hugh's Room Live on March 7, and a stellar lineup of performers has been announced. That list comprises Melissa McClelland, Amanda Rheaume, Skye Wallace, Tanika Charles, Skye Wallace, Mimi O'Bonsawin, Brenley, Caroline Marie Brooks, and Yarro. Ticketshere.


- Boots and Hearts has announced its full festival lineup for 2024, which adds rockers Matchbox Twenty along with Chayce Beckham to previously announced headliners like Cody Johnson, Thomas Rhett and Jason Aldean. Read more here.

Industry news

- Produced by the Atlantic Presenters Association, Contact East is the region’s longest-running multi-disciplinary performing arts booking conference. APA has announced that artist submissions for Contact East 2024 are now open here, with a Feb. 29 deadline. The conference runs in Charlottetown, PEI, Sept. 26-29.

- The Drake Hotel has had a major impact on Toronto's music, food and social scenes over the past two decades, and it plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a major party taking over the building on Feb. 23. Holding court on the Drake Underground stage will be Begonia, while Broken Social Scene co-founder Brendan Canning takes over the Drake Lounge stage with members from Stars, Zeus, Apostle of Hustle and controller.controller for a series of shows. DJ John Kong closes out the night. Tickets here.

-Quebec rapper Lost has been named as a participant in YouTube’s FIFTY DEEP Music Class of 2024, a grants program that champions and provides support for Black artists, songwriters and producers in the hip-hop arena. The class is comprised of 27 global artists, songwriters, and producers from the U.S., Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, Canada and beyond. Read more about FIFTY DEEP here.

- 604 Records has signed Quebec City -based country singer and songwriter Allison Daniels to its roster. Daniels' debut release “Who, What, Where, When, Why,” came out on Feb. 9.


- Following the recommendations put forward in the #blackmusicmatters report, Music Nova Scotia and the African Nova Scotian Music Association (ANSMA) have created a joint African Nova Scotian/Black Music Advisory Committee. This will consist of up to six members with diverse skills and experiences, and the call for interested parties is now open. More info here.

- Music Publishers Canada (MPC) is now accepting applications for its 2024 Women in the Studio National Accelerator. In its sixth year, this program will offer a series of curated production and songwriting related opportunities and networking experiences to women-identifying, gender-fluid, non-binary, and gender non-conforming producer-songwriters from across the country. The deadline to apply here is Feb. 27.


- The Banff Centre is now accepting applications for its Art of Piano Residency, a two-week program offering individual coaching and masterclasses. It runs July 5-19, and the deadline to apply here is March 27.

- The call for applications for Mundial Montréal 2024 is currently underway, until March 1. The event will be held in Montreal from Nov. 19 to 22. Apply here.

- The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAOntario) has put out a call for nominations to its volunteer Board. For 2023/2024, there are five Elected Director openings. The election will be conducted electronically, April 8-19, and the deadline to apply is March 25. For more info, contact Verle Mobbs:

-The Canadian Black Music Archive is hosting a Black Music Month event at the City of Toronto Archives (255 Spadina Road at Davenport Road) on Friday, Feb. 23. Running from 4-8 p.m., it is a musical celebration featuring Shakura S'Aida, Jay Douglas, Kobena Aquaa-Harrison and Slimflex. Learn more about the CBMA in this Billboard Canadafeature.

Artists news

- Veteran Hamilton psych-rock/protopunk band Simply Saucer has earned an international cult following largely on the basis of its album Cyborgs Revisited, now considered a classic of the genre. Its material will be reprised in its entirety and captured for a live recording when SS perform at The Mule Spinner in Hamilton on March 2. The stellar lineup for this show comprises leader Edgar Breau, fellow original member Kevin Christoff, Mike Trebilcock (The Killjoys) and Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo). Highly recommended. Tickets here.

Edgar Breau solo also joins D'Arcy Good for a Feb. 17 matinee show at The Capitol in Hamilton. Tix here.

- Acclaimed Toronto rootsy singer/songwriter Jadea Kelly has recorded a fifth studio album, Weather Girl, produced by Jim Bryson (Suzie Ungerleider, Kathleen Edwards). To give it the technical and promotional support needed, Kelly has launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $15K, and it expires in less than two weeks. Check here for vinyl / CD pre orders + fun perks.


Hailey Bieber
David Sims for W Magazine

Hailey Bieber

Music News

Hailey Bieber Opens Up About ‘Emotional’ Moments During Pregnancy & Trying to ‘Soak In’ Alone Time With Justin Bieber

The couple announced they are expecting their first child together in the spring.

Hailey Bieber is gearing up for motherhood, and the model opened up about her pregnancy journey for a new W Magazine cover story.

“I probably could have hid it until the end, but I didn’t enjoy the stress of not being able to enjoy my pregnancy outwardly,” she explained of announcing her pregnancy at the six-month mark. “I felt like I was hiding this big secret, and it didn’t feel good. I wanted the freedom to go out and live my life.”

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