Dawn Tyler Watson won the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriter of the Year honours, as well as Recording/Producer of the Year (for Mad Love) at the 23rd annual Maple Blues Awards, presented by the Toronto Blues Society on Feb. 3, 2020, at Koerner Hall in Toronto.

Miss Emily

Miss Emily

After thanking her band for their arrangements and playing “that take these songs to the next level,” the Montréal-based Watson said, “I really believe there is a force and a power… it’s the force of love, it’s the force of music, it’s the force of passion, and I’ve been blessed to be able to have that given to me… It’s because of grace that I’m standing here today.”

Miss Emily, from Kingston, Ont., was the big winner of the night, taking home three trophies: Female Vocalist and New Artist of the Year, as well as the inaugural Sapphire Video Award, for “Hold Back the River.” The Blues With A Feeling Award for lifetime achievement went to Montréal’s Michael Jerome Brown, for his long-standing career and commitment to blues music. New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen took home trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year and Acoustic Act of the Year

The sixth annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award, along with a $1,000 prize, was handed out to Rich Junco for his song “Cope.” First runners-up Bad Luck Woman & Her Misfortunes earned a $250 prize for their song “Curel Thing,” while the was a tie for the $250 second runners-up prize: Joe Nolan for “Paranoia Day 36 Blues,” and Loryn Taggart for “In My Company.”

The Maple Blues Awards are funded in part by the SOCAN Foundation.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Reklaws, Jenna Walker, CCMA, SOCAN, Song Camp, 2020

The Reklaws’ Jenna Walker recording a song.

SOCAN partnered with The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) to present the second annual CCMA Song Camp, from Jan. 19 to 24, 2020, at The Sherwood Inn Resort on Lake Joseph, in the Muskokas, a few hours’ drive North of Toronto. The four-day camp gathered 12 country music artists, songwriters, and producers, and created 15 incredible songs.

Once again, SOCAN helped to provide a unique, powerful opportunity to help our members develop their co-writing skills, and grow their business worldwide. The isolated location allowed participants to break free from their day-to-day routines and distractions, and offered them access to unique collaborative experiences they might not otherwise have. Participants ranged from longtime country stars like Carolyn Dawn Johnson, to professional songwriters like Kelly Archer and Deric Ruttan, to fast-rising talents like The Reklaws, to producers like Alex Kline and Derek Hoffman.

Each morning at 10:00 a.m., the participants received their group assignments – which changed daily – then spent the full day and evening writing songs in those groups. The camp arranged for one artist, one songwriter, and one producer in each group/studio, with different pairings for each of the four days. Each night at 10;00 p.m., the entire camp would gather to listen to the playback of the songs created that day. The writers quickly bonded, as they co-wrote in 12-hour workdays.

“The SOCAN CCMA Muskoka song camp was exactly what I needed to put heart to paper for this record,” said artist participant Steven Lee Olsen. “You can count me in for life.”

Chad Brownlee, CCMA, SOCAN, Song Camp, 2020

Chad Brownlee records fresh lyrics from his cellphone.

“This was my first multi-day, destination song camp, and as a 9-to-5, Nashville-based songwriter, used to the comforts of my Music Row office and my specific writing routine, I didn’t know what to expect,” said songwriter participant Deric Ruttan. “Looking back a week later, I’m struck by how much fun it was, how well everyone got along, and how some really great songs were written.  It was a very productive week.  Everyone – artists, producers, and songwriters – set the creative bar high from the start of the camp, and really did a great job serving (stylistically) each artist that was in the room.  Getting to spend time with old friends and make new ones in a winter setting as beautiful as Muskoka (my old stomping grounds) was a bonus.”

“I had an amazing week at the CCMA / SOCAN Song Camp!” said producer participant Derek Hoffman, recently nominated for a 2020 JUNO for Producer of the Year. “Every artist, writer, and producer brought their “A” Game. Some top-level talent was on display, and I was honoured to be able to be a part of it, and wetting my country songwriting whistle with such an elite level of talent. I’m excited about every song that came out of this week. Thanks to CCMA and SOCAN for keeping us cozy, fed, and inspired every single day! We won’t forget it.”

“The song camp experience is totally unique,” said SOCAN Director, A&R, Rodney Murphy. “We were thrilled to work with the CCMA once again, as we shared our mutual enthusiasm for fostering music creators’ growth.”

The CCMA Song Camp, facilitated by representatives from the CCMA and SOCAN, boasted a roster of some of Canada’s very best country talent. Those attending were:

The Reklaws (siblings Stuart & Jenna Walker)
Tim Hicks
Chad Brownlee
Steven Lee Olsen

Deric Ruttan
Kelly Archer
Carolyn Dawn Johnson
Jessica Mitchell

Derek Hoffman
Dave “Dwave” Thomson
Brandon Day
Alex Kline

Tracy Martin – CCMA President
Alannah Cruickshank – CCMA Head of Live Events + Artist Relations
Kayla Gumb – CCMA Executive Assistant/Project Manager
Racquel Villagante – SOCAN A&R Representative
Aidan D’Aoust – SOCAN A&R Representative

SOCAN is very pleased with the inspired creativity, fresh songs, and new working relationships that were developed at the second CCMA Song Camp.

AC VasquezThere was one more incredible feat, last Sunday, after Kansas City Chiefs’ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first Québécois to win the Super Bowl; it was a musical one, that helped kick the province’s national pride into overdrive. Alex Castillo Vasquez, born in Montréal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood, and winner of the 2018 SOCAN International Award, was at the helm of the musical production and arrangements of Shakira’s performance (as she shared the stage with Jennifer Lopez) during the half-time extravaganza.

On the phone the next day, SOCAN member Vasquez – who still couldn’t quite believe what happened – said it was quite a tall order. “I’ve been working on music with Shakira for three years now. We heard about the Super Bowl show while we were in Barcelona! Immediately and for the past three months, we started shaping the show, musically. Those were incredibly long days! This whole experience was incredible! I’ve learned a lot while working so closely with Shakira. And being able to watch the Super Bowl on the field last night is just priceless! Afterwards, I took my mom and sister to Shakira’s surprise party, that was a once in a lifetime event!”

Vasquez’s feat was also highly publicized in the Latino press, since he was born to a Colombian mother and a Dominican father, and articles about him were published in El Día and Listin Diaro.

As mentioned, his collaboration with Shakira didn’t start with their collaboration on her spectacular medley for the half-time show. He’s already produced five songs for the star, including her most recent hit “Me Gusta.” This is just one of his productions to have charted over the past few years, as he’s collaborated on hits for Becky G, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Niki Minaj.

SOCAN is proud of AC Vasquez’s international success, and wishes him many more high-profile accomplishments to come.