Manitoba musicians and members of the industry won awards in more than a dozen categories at this year’s Western Canadian Music Awards.
The annual awards ceremony was broadcast live Friday night at the West End Cultural Center, but a few performers learned they won live on CBC Radio One in Manitoba that afternoon.
Alexa Dirks, better known as Pop Powerhouse Begonia, was a double winner this year, winning awards for Recording of the Year and Pop Artist of the Year. Last year, she won the Artist of the Year award.
Dirks says not being able to tour during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but it has allowed him to focus on his mental health, reassess his expectations and get creative.
“It was kind of when it all changed for me and I decided to work on a new album instead of waiting for a new tour,” she said in an interview on CBC. Up to speed program on Friday.
“I just wanted to try to be compassionate with myself about all of this and not try to be too harsh and say to myself, ‘I have to get back on the road ASAP! “It’s like I can take my time and come back when I felt safe and well.”
Independent rock duo Mise en Scène, known to friends as Stefanie Johnson and Jodi Dunlop, was named Rock Artist of the Year.
Johnson says there is something special about being a musician in Manitoba.
“When it’s dark at 4pm you have to do something and you have to dig deep and figure out what you are going to do,” she said.
“For us, it’s about hiding, writing songs and thinking. We’re lucky to come from such an amazing community of artists and musicians.”
Grant Davidson, better known to local music fans as Slow Leaves, was named Songwriter of the Year.
Davidson released his latest album, titled Holiday, during the containment of COVID-19, which was reflected in the tone of the songs.
“It was born out of a feeling of isolation and a kind of uncertainty about the future, especially in my case when it comes to music and where it would go,” he said.
Other Manitoba artists who have won awards include:
- Pop / R & B / soul artist Kelly Bado won the Francophone Artist of the Year and Global Artist of the Year awards.
- Multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer Sebastian Gaskin won the R&B Artist of the Year award.
- Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter William Prince took home the Roots Artist of the Year for the second year in a row.
- Metal-hardcore Doom band Vagina Witchcraft, who was on the Polaris Music Prize’s long list, took home the metal and hard artist of the year award.
- Roberta Landreth, who is best known for designing album covers and group posters, won the award for excellence in visual design.
A full list of winners is available on the BreakOut West website.