The 2nd Annual CMAO Awards Show once again took place in Markham, Ontario and sold out a few weeks ahead of this very special night. The importance of this event and the CMAO in general cannot be emphasized enough. The sense of community and support it provides for artists in this province is a valuable ingredient in those artists’ future success. And the night was not only enjoyed by artists and media, but also by enthusiastic fans. Jason McCoy did an excellent job as host – always funny and always able to deliver a country song in a first class way. The Western Swing Authority and Wendell Ferguson were once again the multi-talented house band. Country 107.3’s Randy Owen’s voice was perfect for the night’s announcing duties. I want to send a big and heartfelt thank you to all those who organized this event – your hard work, planning and dedication paid off with an outstanding night of music, entertainment and acknowledgement of Ontario’s country talent.
I asked several Ontario country artists who attended to share their thoughts on the CMAOs to include in this column – starting with Riki Knox:
“Reflecting on the 2nd Annual CMAO Awards Show, I’m filled with pride and a sense of kinship with my fellow CMAO members. From the hard working artists to the top label executives, we filled the Markham Theatre, all there for the same reason… our love for Country Music! It’s so amazing to connect with like-minded people, to share stories and experiences, and to be around others who share the same deep passion. A huge THANK YOU to the CMAO board of Directors, members, volunteers and incredible talent for creating such a memorable evening!” – Ontario country artist Riki Knox
I had the opportunity to interview Jordan McIntosh a few days before the big night. It was great to meet him there. He’s proof that Ontario has young country talent ready to climb high up the charts. Congratulations to him on winning the CMAO Rising Star Award. One of his songs is called “Grew Up In A Country Song”, and I know he’ll keep growing in country songs for years to come.
It was a great thrill to present an award at the CMAOs along with The Lovelocks and Jordan Andrew from Lucknow’s Music In The Fields. The award was for Best Secondary Market Radio Station. These smaller stations often give artists a shot at their first radio airplay before the bigger stations get on board. The “Boot” (the CMAO award) went to Country 107.3 in Tillsonburg. Being backstage before your name is called to go and present is a real rush.
The CMAO Impact Award went to music legend Gordon Lightfoot. Where do you begin to describe his impact on music and other artists? The stories told before he took the stage were classic and his presence there was amazing. Many artists and fans had their pictures taken with him and had a chance to talk to him. Thank you, CMAO, for not only recognizing today’s talent, but for giving us all a chance to honour and spend time with a legend.
It’s always a pleasure to be in the company of Cadence Grace, Stacey Zegers and Ann Chaplin from Runaway Angel. Look out radio, they’re coming your way!
“From the outside in, the music industry can appear ominous and intimidating. The CMAO showed me the opposite. The education and industry contacts I’ve gained since I’ve joined are invaluable, and I am just thrilled to have such a wonderful organization close to home. The awards solidified to me that not only is Ontario a hub of extraordinary talent, but the artists truly support and respect each other. I left beaming with pride and with a renewed sense of dedication and love for our industry. I can’t wait for the next CMAO Awards!” – Ontario country artist Ann Chaplin, one third of the country group Runaway Angel.
Deric Ruttan performed his Grammy-nominated song “Mine Would Be You” – a huge hit for Blake Shelton. And the success continues – Tim McGraw has released the Deric Ruttan-penned song “City Lights.”
Great to meet Sudbury’s Larry Berrio who was on my show recently.
“This is my second year attending the CMAO in Markham and do have to say that I was extremely impressed ! I can see this eventually being held in an arena! We have so much good talent in Ontario, it’s crazy. Being from Ontario, it gives me great honour to be affiliated with them. Jason McCoy made the night, being an incredible MC! He is truly an ambassador for our Ontario industry and Canadian country music in general. My hat goes off to all that are involved in making this show – so proud to be a part of it!” – Ontario country artist Larry Berrio
You sometimes forget, until a night like this reminds you just how much of Canadian country talent comes from Ontario. What a great thrill to see Small Town Pistols take the stage to perform. Amanda and Tyler are dynamic performers and songwriters and were given the award for Best Country Album. What followed their performance together was pure magic as their Dad Steve joined them on stage to reunite The Wilkinsons and sing 26 Cents – the hit that began their career.
Many others will have recapped the CMAO highlights and provided the complete list of winners. I’ve only touched on a few moments from the show here. My purpose in this column is to applaud the CMAO for putting on this stellar show and having it run so smoothly and so full of great Ontario talent. For those who didn’t get tickets before they sold out, keep this event in mind early next year! The CMAO is growing stronger all the time and is making a difference in the careers of Ontario country artists.
“The CMAO Awards night was a wonderful evening of country music! It was nice to see so many familiar faces and a lot of new ones as well. I am proud to be a part of an organization and event that brings country talent together for a remarkable evening. Not only do we all share our love for country music but we can all proudly say we are from Ontario. I urge all country artists and fans to support the CMAO.” – Ontario Country artist Tianna Woods
To hear recent episodes of In The Country including Dave’s interview with CMAO Rising Star Jordan McIntosh, please visit www.inthecountryinterviews.com
(Photo credit for pictures of Jason McCoy, Dave on stage, Deric Ruttan, Beverley Mahood, and the CMAO Finale: Grant W. Martin Photography.)