By Carey Langsner, Rock At Night Ontario
Coverage: 2023 CMA Ontario Awards
The 11th annual Country Music Association (CMA) Ontario Festival and Awards Celebration returned to Hamilton Ontario on June 2nd to 4th . The weekend started at Mill’s Hardware, a little club in downtown Hamilton, with Songs & Stories: Songwriters in the Round, where several artists talked about their experiences and writing processes. As the evening progressed, it turned into a jam session with artists from different groups joining each other for a song or two.
On the weekend, “Street Fair” brought a number of events down by the water at Pier 4 Park. Saturday started with a Kid Zone with entertainment for the younger fans, then in the evening was the Bonfire Concert with performances from upcoming Country artists: Robyn Ottolini, Owen Riegling, Dayna Reid, Graham Scott Fleming, Elyse Saunders, and David Boyd Janes. Sunday was a busy day starting with the Tailgate Party concert at Pier 4 Park featuring The Redhill Valleys, Kristine St-Pierre, Nicole Rayy, and Buck Twenty. Then it was off to the main event, the CMA Ontario Awards Show at Theater Aquarius.
The red carpet was busy as the Country artists started to arrive early and did not stop coming in until right up until show time. Every artist was kind enough to pose so every photographer could capture a shot of the artist.
The 2023 Awards Ceremony was hosted by Shannon Ella, radio host for iHeart Radio, and Jason McCoy Canadian Recording Artist. The backing band for the performing artists this evening was The Western Swing Authority. The evening consisted of 19 awards [see the results below] and performances by many artists some of whom were also nominees. The last award of the evening was the Fan’s Choice Award which went to Jade Eagleson. After he finished his acceptance speech, he was presented with a new gold record for his latest record selling more than 50,000 units.
The evening finished with Rick Haynes telling stories about his 50+ years as a bass player for Gordon Lightfoot. Rick then introduced the Good Brothers, who then dedicated the performance to Kim Lightfoot, Gordon Lightfoot’s wife, who was in the audience. With The Western Swing Authority backing up the Good Brothers, they performed a tribute medley of Gordon Lightfoot’s music. For the final song, “Alberta Bound”, the Good Brothers were joined on stage by all of the night’s performers with the audience singing along to the final chorus. You can see a video of the Gordon Lightfoot Tribute below:
CMA Ontario Award Winners
Single of the Year; “Say It” – Robyn Ottolinni
Album of the Year; Party in the Back – Nate Haller
Songwriter(s) of the Year; Steven Lee Olsen, Brandon Day – Nashville or Nothing (recorded by Steven Lee Olsen)
Female Artist of the Year; Robyn Ottolinni
Male Artist of the Year; Tim Hicks
Group or Duo of the Year; The Reklaws
Roots Artist of the Year; Mackenzie Leigh Meyer
Francophone Artist or Group of the Year; Reney Ray
Rising Star; Josh Ross
Music Video of the Year; “Genes” – Elyse Saunders
Fan’s Choice; Jade Eagleson
Record Producer(s) of the Year; Karen Kosowski – Karli June
Music Industry Person of the Year; Dave Woods, In The Country
Radio Station of the Year (Large Market); KX-947, Hamilton
Radio Station of the Year (Medium Market); Pure Country 105, Peterborough
Radio Station of the Year (Small Market); 100.1 FM The Ranch, Listowel
Compass Award: The Reklaws
Holly & Steve Kassay Spirit Award; Kayla Wilging
Impact Award; Family Brown