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29th Annual SOCAN Awards Honoured Canada's Best In Class
FYI Music News
A top tier list of Canadian songwriters, composers, music publishers and music industry executives convened at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto Monday evening for the 29th annual SOCAN Awards.
The gala ceremony honoured Canada`s music creators and publishers across an array of genres, including Rap, Pop, R&B, Rock, Film & Television, Dance, Folk/Roots, Jazz, Country, Classical and more. The event was hosted by Brett Kissel, who noted that " the theme tonight is the importance of the song." He rightfully noted that Canadian songwriters are "killing it globally, but we`re too damned humble to brag. We are the best, and the best are here tonight."
This year, Burton Cummings and Sarah McLachlan were each honoured, Cummings with the Lifetime Achievement Award, for more than 50 years of songwriting success, and McLachlan with the Global Inspiration Award for her accomplishments as a singer-songwriter, philanthropist, and advocate for women.
Also receiving SOCAN Achievement Awards were Shawn Mendes, and Rihanna, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar co-writer Frank Dukes, both of whom earned Songwriter of the Year Awards.
Both Mendes and Dukes gave short, heartfelt acceptance speeches at the event. Mendes` appearance was unexpected given that he was performing an iHeartRadio Secret Session in Toronto the same evening. He referenced the camaraderie of Canadian artists and urged them all to "keep working."
A multiple winner on the night, Dukes commented that "being a producer can be boring. The talent of the artists I work with makes my life interesting."
Our Lady Peace band members were on hand to receive the National Achievement Award from longtime supporter Alan Cross, who confessed that an unsolicited tape he received from a young and unsigned OLP initially went unheard. Singer Raine Maida referred to the group`s hit songs as "our living history."
Introducing Screen Composer of the Year Keith Power was actor/writer Allan Hawco (Republic of Doyle). Hawco joked that "I`m not even the most famous guy on my block," a reference to the fact the good friends grew up doors apart in Newfoundland.
Neville Quinlan and Cheryl Link of peermusic Canada were awarded the Publisher of the Year Award, the only category not announced beforehand. Presenting the award was Alan Frew, who began by thanking Burton Cummings for kind words of support after Frew`s stroke and drew laughs by recalling getting laid to "American Woman." In his acceptance speech, Quinlan referenced peermusic`s 91-year history as "a company with integrity and vision," and he called on his peers to "respect and promote each other."
Daniel Caesar was presented with the Breakout and R&B Music awards for “Get You.” To receive the Breakout Award, he was introduced by his managers and creative collaborators, Jordan Evans and Matthew Burnett. Evans recalled that "I got an idea of the power of his work when his songs made girls I know cry," while Burnett praised Caesar`s "God-given gift of communicating. As a songwriter I`m jealous. He just has it. He`s not just a business partner, client and bandmate he is family."
In his short and sweet acceptance speech, Caesar confessed: "I go onstage for a living, but this makes me nervous."
Denise Donlon introduced Global Inspiration Award winner Sarah McLachlan in eloquent fashion, describing the singer as "feisty, focused and tough. She is a steely-eyed revolutionary who launched Lilith Fair after being angered by gender bias." Donlon also reminisced that "Sarah has not always been flawless. In one very early interview, I had to tell her, "spit out your gum`."
Fellow artists offering tribute via video included Michael Buble, Jann Arden, Melissa Etheridge, and Bonnie Raitt. In her speech, McLachlan noted, " I never expected this amazing ride. What a gift to be part of something bigger." She recalled that "music saved me as a kid, it was my salvation," then noted with pride that 1100 kids are now part of music programs she has established in three cities.
A performance highlight of the night was McLachlan`s version of "Angel," featuring her at the piano and stellar vocal support from her bandmates` Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland (aka Whitehorse).
The evening was capped off in fine fashion with the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Burton Cummings. He was introduced with poetic remarks from Daniel Lanois, who noted "your prairie heart guides you well.. Your songs know no boundaries, they skate over political madness."
Clearly moved, Cummings responded that "I`m proudest of this award for getting it from Daniel Lanois. He is a true renaissance man, a true artist. Go listen to Acadie!" Cummings declared, "I have made 33 albums, and I want to do another one" and thanked Lorne Safer, "my manager of 56 years. We`ve never had a contract."
Explaining "they told me I could sing a bit," Cummings then took to the piano, delivering stellar versions of "Break It To Them Gently" and "Share The Land."
Performances on the night also came from host Brett Kissel (accompanied by the SOCAN orchestra led by screen composer, Steph Copeland), Dear Rouge (with an intense version of Our Lady Peace classic "Naveed) , Rose Cousins (who won the Folk/Roots Music Award), The Launch winner Logan Staats (reprising Spirit Of The West`s "Naveed"), and Sean Leon. Toronto rapper Leon brashly demanded the crowd stand up for him ("I deserve it too), and his angry complaint that "I don`t see hip-hop here" proved somewhat divisive.
Other awards presented on the night went to Alessia Cara for the International Achievement Award, a Dance Music Award and International Song Award for “Stay,” her hit with Zedd. She was unable to attend.
Jazz composer Christine Jensen won the Hagood Hardy Award, Jocelyn Morlock earned the Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award, and The City of Hamilton took home the Licensed To Play Award for the municipality`s commitment to music licensing.
SOCAN Awards for most performed songs, including broadcast and streaming, were presented to Shawn Hook, who won a Pop Music Award for “Reminding Me” (featuring Vanessa Hudgens), and Virginia to Vegas, who won for both “Lights Out” and “Selfish.” The Glorious Sons accepted a Rock Music Award for the hit “Kill the Lights,” while Travis Wood and Gavin Slate were on hand to accept a Country Music Award for “Chills,” performed by the James Barker Band.
Film and television composers honoured included the brothers Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna, who won both an International Film Music Award and an Achievement in Feature Film Music Award for their work on the animated movie Storks. Greg Fisher and Derek Treffry earned both the Domestic Non-Fiction TV Music Award and the International TV Series Music Award for their work on Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.
“Canadian music creators and publishers continue to attain remarkable success, both at home and throughout the world,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “We’re pleased and proud to recognize the great achievements of our songwriters, composers, and music publishers, and we warmly congratulate all of tonight`s Award recipients for their exceptional accomplishments.”
Sponsors of the Awards were Gowling WLG, Crowe Soberman, Yamaha Canada Music, Recording Artists` Collecting Society (ACTRA RACS), Hargraft, Long & McQuade, Music Canada, Ontario Media Development Corporation and Actra Fraternal Benefit Society (AFBS). Official charity partners are the Unison Benevolent Fund and the SOCAN Foundation. At the event, Unison was presented with all of the profits from the sale of SOCAN-branded merchandise over the last year.
The annual Gala de la SOCAN in Montréal, which celebrates and honours the work of Francophone members, will take place in October.