The countdown to the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards is on.
For the first time, the national event is coming to Charlottetown, April 3-4.
For two days, performing artists, talent buyers and music industry professionals will flood the city to be part of this large celebration of Canadian folk music.
On Monday, with fewer than four months left until the opening concert at the Delta Prince Edward, nowhere is the excitement more evident than at Music P.E.I., which is partnering with CFMA for the event.
At the downtown office, banners are flying.
New staff members have been hired.
And the executive director is in high spirits.
“Of course, we’re excited about it. There’s no question. It’s a great opportunity for Charlottetown as a host city. It’s also great recognition for P.E.I. artists,” says Rob Oakie.
And though it’s the first time that Charlottetown has ever hosted the event, over the years Islanders have realized “great success” at the CFMAs.
“It’s a pretty impressive list of P.E.I. artists who were either nominated or had wins – bands like Vishtèn, The East Pointers, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, Collette Cheverie,” says Oakie.
“So, it’s a little extra special to bring it here.”
CFMA president Grit Laskin agrees. He says coming to Charlottetown is a dream come true.
“We wanted to come to P.E.I. for years, but with our time frame – late November, early December – (it) made us worry about weather and travel.”
So, when the organization made the decision to move the event to the spring, it opened up the possibility of finally bringing it to Canada’s smallest province.
“We’re excited about it.”
At City Hall, Wayne Long is also looking forward to the event.
CFMA delegates from across the country will be able to enjoy music and meetings at the Delta Prince Edward in in Charlottetown, and performing artists will get to play in world-class venues.
“As Prince Edward Island’s event capital, Charlottetown continues to punch above its weight with respect to event hosting. On the cultural front, we’ve made great gains by hosting events such as the East Coast Music Awards, Contact East, Les Éloizes and, soon, the Canadian Folk Music Awards,” says Long, events development officer, City of Charlottetown.
Also, for the first time, a record number of P.E.I. performers have been nominated for Canadian Folk Music Awards.
In total, seven have received nods. They include Gordie MacKeeman and the Rhythm Boys, Irish Mythen, Richard Wood, Vishtèn, Lennie Gallant, Jen Grant and Dan Ledwell.
“The level of artistry on P.E.I. is massively high. And the amazing records that were put out on this Island the last 12 months really stand up to anything that Canada is producing."
- Irish Mythen
Although it’s easy to assume that the number of P.E.I. nominees is up due to the CFMAs being held Charlottetown, that’s not the case, says Mythen.
“The level of artistry on P.E.I. is massively high. And the amazing records that were put out on this Island the last 12 months really stand up to anything that Canada is producing,” says
Mythen, who received a CFMA nod for her album, “Little Bones”.
Emmanuelle LeBlanc also knows the power of the CFMAs. She’s a member of the Acadian trio Vishtèn, which has received three nominations for “Horizons”.
“It’s recognition. We take it as a confirmation of the direction that we’re going in. It also gives us a really nice feeling that other people appreciate it.”
Gordie MacKeeman likes that feeling, too.
“It’s our first national nomination,” says the front man for Gordie MacKeeman and the Rhythm Boys, which received a nod for “Dreamland”.
“So, it’s nice to know that we’re progressing and the hard work we’re putting into music is being recognized.”