Newfoundland and Labrador won its first hardware at the 2014 East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Friday night.
Craig Young (left) and Duane Andrews. — Submitted photo
Duane Andrews and Craig Young took home the trophy for Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year for their album, “Charlie’s Boogie,” which mixes traditional folk with bluegrass, jazz and country.
A second award went to Clark Winslow Ross, whose "Lamentations" took the Classical Recording of the Year category.
The nominations were two of 15 ECMA nods given to artists from this province — a surprisingly small number considering there were roughly 200 nominations in total.
With Cape Breton considered its own separate region when it comes to the awards, people have argued in the past that the East Coast Music Association favours artists from the Maritimes, though local musician and lawyer Erin Best says this is simply not true. Best is first vice-chair of the association board, and sits on it along with MusicNL president Peter Newman and longtime MusicNL board member Dean Stairs.
The problem this year is that Newfoundland and Labrador artists just didn’t submit their work to be nominated — which is indicative of a bigger problem, Best said.
“Compared to the other regions, Newfoundland has very little industry support,” she explained. “We have a lot of artists and not very many managers, for example, or booking agents or what even a breakout artist in Nova Scotia would have assembled as a kind of team.”
This might be because the province is so isolated, it’s difficult to tour from here, or because there are so many live music venues, artists can land gigs and make a few bucks without any help, Best mused.
The lack of industry support is something the association has recognized, and has begun to address.
“We are devoting a big part of our future plans to industry development,” Best said. “We are going to spend some of our time, energy and money, and what we’re going to be doing is having specific parts of our conference that are aimed at helping managers and booking agents and publicists get from Point A to Point B in their careers, so we can develop more semi-professional industry people in Newfoundland. That will really help, because those are the people who typically nominate (artists).”
Next year is set to be a bigger year when it comes to the amount of albums released by local artists, and Best, Newman and Stairs will be encouraging them to submit for ECMA nominations.
As the awards are handed out over the next two days, there may be some surprising results, since the ECMA board decided to make some of the categories, like the jazz and hip-hop recordings of the year, fully juried and not open to member vote.
“In the past, it has been known that some of the awards have been like a popularity contest, which we figured was not fair to the regions, because some regions are bigger than others,” Best said. “We felt more comfortable with people winning on their merits, so the process is changing.”
There may also be some changes coming regarding the division geography. Eligible areas may be divided into provinces as opposed to regions, with Cape Breton included with Nova Scotia, since the association has taken steps to ensure the proper mechanisms are in place to allow that change to happen, depending on a vote sometime later this year.
Best pointed out that the major arts funders in Canada, as well as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), use the same five-region structure ECMA currently does.
“It’s a big shift, and it’s not just us,” she said. “Now what will happen is that there will be a conversation that will be had over the course of the next year at our board meetings, and it will eventually come down to a vote at our annual meeting. That has happened before and failed, but we’ll see what happens in the future.”
The 2014 ECMAs will wrap up Sunday night with a gala awards show at the P.E.I. Convention Centre, hosted by Seamus O’Regan, and featuring performances by Amelia Curran, Jimmy Rankin, Tonya Kennedy, Paper Lions, David Myles and more. The event will be streamed live online; visit www.ecma.com for details.
Extra information has been added to this article.