Splitting his time between Nashville and Toronto, Donovan Woods was raised in the small city of Sarnia, Ontario, to the sounds of country music, with a healthy dose of folk and pop – a combination that instilled in him a strong belief in the power of a good melody, the importance of everyday language and the potential of a carefully crafted song. He has worked with some of the top songwriters in North America to craft cuts for performers ranging from Tim McGraw (“Portland, Maine”) and Charles Kelley (“Leaving Nashville”) to Billy Currington (“Sweet Love”).
The Wilkinsons – Steve Wilkinson, daughter Amanda and son Tyler – debuted in 1997. In 1998, the hit single “26 Cents”, went Top 5 U.S. on the Billboard chart and was their first of many Number Ones in Canada. With four albums, they won nine CCMA Awards, a Juno Award, and netted multiple award nominations in the US and Canada.
Mark Watts is currently a program consultant for the Ontario Music Fund (Ontario Media Development Corporation), a program that is aimed at strengthening and stimulating growth in Ontario’s music sector. Previous roles at OMDC over the past six years include administering various tax credit programs including Film & Television and Sound Recording, and serving as the Team Lead for the Intellectual Property Development Fund, a pilot program targeted at IP development. Mark is also a member of the 2017 JUNO Awards Host Committee.
Pete Walker was born in a suburb of Vancouver, grew up in a suburb of Montreal and settled in a suburb of Toronto. As a result, to this day, he’s only truly happy either in the city or out in the country. He’s been at KX96 as an on-air host and Music Director. In the past several years, he’s watched the Canadian Country Music industry grow and, given the talent assembled here this weekend, he’s optimistic about its future. In his spare time, he likes to read, play his guitar and travel.
Ashley Sperling is a music, technology and marketing enthusiast. She’s currently Marketing Manager at Cadence Music Group (formerly MapleMusic | Fontana North) and also teaches digital marketing classes at The Harris Institute for the Arts. She has been a digital marketing manager for Universal Music Canada, an artist management company and Luminato Festival. Ashley has managed campaigns and projects for numerous artists including Hedley, Justin Bieber, Keshia Chanté, Drake, Jann Arden, Florence & The Machine, The Bros. Landreth, Royal Wood and more.
Since being called to the Ontario bar in 1983, Paul Sanderson has been in private practice and has practiced entertainment and arts law exclusively. He is currently a sole practitioner in the firm Sanderson Entertainment Law which is located in the upper beaches district in Toronto. He is an instructor at Metalworks Institute of Sound and Music Production and in this position he provides education on such areas as Entertainment Agreements, Contractual and Legal Aspects of Live Show Production, and Intellectual Property.
Ted Roop is the Director of Programming for Larche Communications Inc. and is also the host of the Canadian Country Spotlight. Ted has been named the Canadian Country Music Association’s Music Director of the Year and has also won the CCMA’s Personality of the Year Award. Ted has been in the radio business since 1998. He is very happily married with two children and lives just outside of Orillia, Ontario.