By Wes Stewart – Cape Breton Post
Sydney, NS – The unsung heroes of the Atlantic Canadian music industry
were honoured Friday with awards and testimonials at the 2005 East
Coast Music Association industry awards show at the Membertou Trade and
Seasoned and up and coming Cape Bretoners were recognized in a number
of categories – a notable one, the Celtic Colours International
Festival, which claimed the Event of the Year award. The eight-day,
islandwide fall festival attracts more than 300 artists from around the
Celtic world, draws 7,000 fans and generates $6 million in revenues.
Directors Max MacDonald & Joella Foulds accepting ECMA 2005 Event of the Year Award.
Organizers Max MacDonald and Joella Foulds jointly accepted the award.
“I would especially like to thank our 900 volunteers,” who make it possible, Foulds said.
MacDonald said Celtic Colours is a legacy of the ECMA.
“Music is good for business,” MacDonald added.
Allie Bennett, a sideman/session musician, was recognized with the
Musician’s Achievement Award and a well-deserved standing ovation by
the hundreds in attendance.
“Being a touring and studio musician for so many years I was resigned
to the fact I’d never get one of these things.”
Bennett has contributed to more than 100 album projects either as a studio musician or producer.
His remarks followed a glowing tribute from Fred Lavery of Lakewind
Sound Studios, whose business won the Studio of the Year award.
Lakewind has been recognized for its work in the category the last five
The inimitable Bette MacDonald shone as emcee, her one-liners cracking up an audience of her peers.
Industry awards were handed out in 14 categories. Cheryl Smith, Port
Hawkesbury, is the Graphic Designer of the Year; Jamie Foulds received
the award in the Technician/Engineer of the Year category for the fifth
Laura Mercer got well deserved accolades for promoting music among the
young in Cape Breton and was recognized as Volunteer of the Year. The
Sydney-area music educator helped organize the 2005 ECMA Atlantic
Superstore Soundwaves music-in-the-schools program and the Sound-Off
Cape Breton battle of the bands competition.
A former Sydney resident MairiAnna Bachynsky, ATV entertainment reporter, was recognized as the Media Person of the Year.
Other award winners were:
Atlantic Airways (CBC Radio Maritimes) for the Broadcast of the Year;
Sonic received the Independent Company of the Year; Industry
Professional of the Year, Wendy Phillips; and Manager of the Year,
Photographer of the Year is Kelly Clark; Production Company/Facility of
the Year, Tour Tech East Ltd.; Radio Station of the Year, CBC Radio,
Halifax; Record Company/Distributor, Warner Music Canada; and Venue of
the Year, The Marquee Club.
A moving tribute to industry pioneer Eric MacEwen brought the crowd to its feet for a resounding applause.
MacEwen, presented the Industry Builder Award, and was introduced by singer/songwriter Rita MacNeil.
“With his descriptive words and eloquent manner in which he speaks he
has shone a spotlight on the East Coast music for many years.” His show
on CJCB introduced Cape Breton music to a larger audience, she said.
MacEwen has been battling cancer in recent years. “No day is lost on
me,” MacEwen said.
Cape Breton singing legend, the late Charlie MacKinnon, was recognized with the Stompin’ Tom award.
ECMA board chairperson Shelley Nordstrom said the awards presentation
is a chance to thank those people who work behind the scenes in this
“It (ECMA) helps to define and build the infrastructure of the
different components and elements that are necessary to build our
The association has grown over the past 17 years by developing a good foundation.
“Our biggest challenge is funding to put staff in place to fulfill all the needs of the membership,” she said.
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