Host for the evening Charlie Majors makes this a “Night To Remember” Photo credit: Grant Martin
To say that the CMAO’s first awards ceremony was met with excitement wouldn’t even come close to describing the winners as they held a piece of our history in their hands or the fans calling out to their favourite stars each time they stepped on stage.
The day we had all been waiting for, prepping for, and stressing over was finally here. Finally, our province’s world-class country music talent would be recognized by their home crowd, on their home soil.
Fans came to the awards early and stayed late, flocking towards their favourite stars, who posed for photos and got to know the throngs of people who sing along to their songs on the radio. The lobby served as a pre-show party and looking around, it wasn’t difficult to spot some excitement.
Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson of the Small Town Pistols Photo credit: Digital Cocoon.
The energy carried right in from the lobby and onto the stage as one by one, Ontario’s finest showed their fans the country music talent that this province is known around the world for. At times, the soft-seated Markham Theatre felt more like a coliseum for acts like the Small Town Pistols who rocked out with abandon. Other times, we were transported into someone’s living room as they jammed with their closest friends.
Sure, it would have to be The Western Swing Authority’s living room to find friends like Michelle Wright, Charlie Major, Jason Blaine, and Deric Ruttan to jam with, but the atmosphere was intimate, nonetheless.
Jason Blaine (L) and Deric Ruttan with their Songwriter of the Year Awards for “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore” Photo credit: Dominic Chan
When the audience wasn’t yelling lyrics to their favourite songs almost louder than the bands, they were giving acts like The Heartbroken standing ovations in the middle of their songs because Damhnait Doyle’s voice is just that good.
Damhnait Doyle and Stuart Cameron (background left) of the Heartbroken Photo credit: Grant Martin
Charlie Major did a brilliant job of hosting the evening, where winners included: Kira Isabella for Female Artist of the Year, The Stellas for Group/Duo of the Year, Johnny Reid for Male Artist of the Year, Autumn Hill and Lindsay Broughton tied for Rising Star, Deric Ruttan for Album of the Year with Up All Night, Jason Blaine for Single of the Year with “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore”, and Deric Ruttan and Jason Blaine for Songwriter of the Year.
CJKX – KX96 Oshawa/Toronto won Radio Station of the Year in a Major Market, while CICX – FM – KICX 106 FM Orillia took home Radio Station of the Year in a Secondary Market.
The Canadian Country Music Association was given the Impact Award, which recognizes an artist, group, industry personality or company/organization who has left an enduring and indelibly positive footprint on the landscape of country music in Ontario.
From left to right, Brandi Mills, Alannah Cruickshank, President Don Green and Nicole Ryan Photo credit: Digital Cocoon.
From the pressroom to the furthest seat in the audience, the overwhelming sense was that this awards ceremony marked the beginning of what will be a long legacy. The night’s winners will forever posses the honour of winning the very first CMAO awards and they seemed to recognize that as they thanked their support teams.
Kira Isabella with her award for Female artist of the Year Photo credit: Dominic Chan
The inaugural Country Music Association of Ontario awards ceremony was a huge success and we are thrilled by what is to come for this talent-laden province. Again, we would like to thank everyone who was a part of putting together the CMAO awards show, the fans who came out to cheer on the Ontario country music industry, and the artists who work tirelessly to give Ontario residents music we can be proud of.
Left to right, Michelle Wright, Jason Blaine and Brian Good sing the finale Photo credit: Grant Martin