Musicians shine at East Coast Music Awards

By Ian Foster
Bishop's College
St. John's, Newfoundland

The annual East Coast Music Awards took place on February 14th at the Memorial Stadium in St. John's, Newfoundland. The event, which showcases artists at all stages in their careers, allows for members of the music community to present their skills on-stage, take part in workshops, and meet industry professionals.

"It's just like one big family," said Maureen Ennis of the group, The Ennis Sisters. "It gives people a chance to see music grow."

The gala event is also good business for Newfoundland. Over two thousand people came from all over Atlantic Canada to attend the awards. There were foreign buyers expected from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Nordic countries as well. While it is too soon to tell what effect the ECMA's have had, the hopes lean towards spreading Canadian music in the European market.

Kathy Phippard

The Awards, which started in Halifax eleven years ago, have grown substantially since then.

"They were originally very small," says Kathy Phippard, singer/songwriter who has performed at the ECMA several times. "The founder was Rob Cohen, and there were only four volunteers."

The ECMA conference and awards ceremony first came to Newfoundland five years ago, and have returned this year with amazing results.

"I don't think it's any surprise to say that this year has been the best yet," said Brian Way, pianist for the jazz band, The Dogberries.

This statement was reinforced by both Ennis and Phippard. All agreed that the arrangement
and schedule for this year was far better than that of previous years.

In regards to the awards and achievements of the night, there were few surprises. Natalie MacMaster won Best Female Artist of the Year. And Great Big Sea went home with Best Video for "Lukey" and Entertainer of the Year Award, an award they've claimed four times.

However, the big winner of the night was Bruce Guthro, who won five awards in all, including Best Male Artist, Best Pop/Rock Artist, Songwriter and Single for "Fallen", and Album of the Year for "Of Your Son."

Other awards of the night went to Rawlins Cross for Roots/traditional--Artist/Group of the Year, The John Campbelljohn Trio for Blues/Gospel Artist/Group of the Year, SOL for alternative group/artist of the year and The Kidd Brothers Children's Entertainers for Children's Artist/Group of the Year.

Bruce Guthro

One of the most resounding comments of the night, which was enforced by everyone asked, was that Memorial Stadium looked fabulous. It was obvious that the set was well-designed, and the show itself was entertaining and enjoyable; an example being the introductory scenes with Rick Mercer and Premier Brian Tobin. There can be no doubt that the show came across well.