The 11th annual CMA Ontario Festival and Awards Celebration returns to Hamilton

CMA 2023 Award Show Coverage

CMA Ontario Red Carpet. Photo by Carey Langsner.

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.

CMA Ontario Bonfire. Photo by Carey Langsner.

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.

CMA Ontario Red Carpet. Photo by Carey Langsner.

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.

Gordon Lightfoot Tribute – CMA Ontario Awards. Photo by Carey Langner.

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



Carey Langsner

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