The country music community was happy to meet again on Sept. 14, 2022, for the return of the Gala Country, held this year during the Festival Western de St-Tite. This 9th edition highlighted the work of the artists and artisans in the Canadian Francophone country-music community. Hosted for the very first time by Richard Turcotte, the gala gave out 14 “Willie” awards to projects that stood out in the past year, in addition to offering a variety of musical performances.

SiriusXM offered a $3,000 cash prize to the winner of the song of the year (“Contre vents et marées,” performed by Paul Daraîche and Renée Martel) as well as $500 to the other four finalists: Wild Ouest, Nathalie Lord, Martin Duford, and Dave Harmo. SOCAN, involved with the gala once more this year, presented a $1,000 cash prize and a one-week stay at the SOCAN House in Nashville to Ghys Mongeon, winner of the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year Award. SOPROQ offered him a $1,000 cash prize for Original Song Album of the Year, for Chasser l’ennui.

Mack & Ro, René Turgeon, Les filles de, Nathalie Lord, and Ghys Mongeon performed an opening number in homage to the pioneers of the genre, while the Deraspe brothers, from Sept-Îles, presented their song “Le vieux pêcheur,” and Beauséjour offered a touching rendition of “Lucille Starr.” A new generation of country musicians was also present, with Montréal’s Brittany Kennell singing the title song of her album I Ain’t a Saint and Gabrielle Goulet, playing her bilingual new release “Cliché Heartache.”

The complete list of winners is:

English Album of the Year
Matt Lang (More)

Television show of the year
Simply Country (Season 3, with Guylaine Tanguay)

Original Song Album of the Year
Ghys Mongeon (Chasser l’ennui)

Group of the year
Lendemain de veille

Album of Re-interpretations of the Year
Guylaine Tanguay (Country)

Female Performer of the Year
Nathalie Lord

SOCAN Songwriter of the Year
Ghys Mongeon

Male Performer of the Year
Laurie Leblanc

Discovery of the year
Wild Ouest

Show of the Year
Patrick Groulx et les bas blancs

Show of the Year presenter
Jam Country Lanjeu

Song of the Year
Contre vents et marées
Performers: Paul Daraîche and Renée Martel
Songwriter: Nelson Minville

Radio Show of the Year
En route vers l’ouest avec Véronique Labbé

Public Choice Award
Sugar Crush

SOCAN member Pierre Kwenders won the 2022 edition of the $50,000 Polaris Prize for the best album in Canada, on Sept. 19, 2022, at The Carlu in downtown Toronto – in a gala presentation held live and in person for the first time in three years, and open to the general public for the first time.

Kwenders’ winning album José Louis and the Paradox of Love is a kind of origin story, set to songs co-written and recorded with a wide variety of musical collaborators from around the world. The result is a mesmerizing work on which the 11-person Polaris Grand Jury ultimately agreed. If you’d like to read what Kwenders had to say about his winning album when it first came out, click here.

Graciously and gratefully accepting the 17th edition of the award onstage from last year’s winner, Cadence Weapon, Kwenders talked about losing two cousins and his godfather in the past few months, and how thankful he is for all of the little things they did that inspired him, and helped make him who he is today.

“Thank you so much for believing in me,” he told the crowd. “Thank you so much for believing in the story I want to tell. This is a story about so many people: so many African, so many diaspora African guys, young, girls, whatever, moving here, and discovering themselves. I just happened to discover myself, discover who I am, in Canada. And I’m very grateful to Canada for giving me this place to really, really discover myself. This is my story, my African story, my Congolese story, my Canadian story, and this is your story if you want to take it as yours, and make it whatever you want to make it.”

The 2022 Gala featured an intense opening performance from Cadence Weapon, and captivating live performances from the short-list nominees as well, each of whom received a $3,000 prize: a stirring Afro-pop medley from Kwenders; a bouncy Chiac-disco mini-set from Lisa Leblanc; an over-the-top show with a construction-worker theme from Hubert Lenoir; the ‘90s-style rock of Kelly McMichael; the inspired moccasin-gaze music of Ombiigizi; the artful cello stylings of Ouri; some thoughtful, moving rap from Shad, who broke it down to an powerful solo a capella rap; an explosive medley of excerpts of songs from Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ nominated album Life After; and soulful R&B from Charlotte Day Wilson. Nominated indie-rock band Destroyer were touring Europe and couldn’t attend the Gala, so Toronto-based act Fresh Pepper interpreted two of their songs.

Earlier in the evening, at a packed, post-pandemic, and very friendly pre-show reception, SOCAN sponsored each attendee’s first glass of wine, beer, or liquor. As the posted signs said, “Please enjoy your first drink on us.”

In an arrangement made before his Polaris win, Kwenders will be staying at the SOCAN House in Los Angeles for a week during October of 2022, and showcasing there as part of a program co-ordinated by SOCAN, POP Montréal, and the Canadian Consulate in L.A.

SOCAN congratulates Pierre Kwenders, and all of the 2022 short-list nominees, on these great career achievements!

To support its members, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television – Québec Chapter organized its first-ever edition of the Salon des membres des prix Gémeaux, at the Cinémathèque québécoise, in Montréal, on Sept. 13 and 14, 2022, ahead of the various galas of the 37th edition of the Gémeaux Awards. The Salon des membres is intended to be an additional platform for promoting local talent. SOCAN took this opportunity to host a panel on screen composing.

The panel was a case study on the documentary La goutte de trop, a film whose music is nominated at the 2022 Gémeaux Awards in the category of Best Original Score: Documentary, and which tackles the myth that the supply of drinking water is inexhaustible in Québec. The Chairman of SOCAN’s Board of Directors, Marc Ouellette, moderated the discussion, as did Jérémie Battaglia, director of the documentary, and Anaïs Larocque, the SOCAN member who scored Une goutte de trop. They addressed several subjects, focusing on the methodology and creative process of screen composing, especially when it comes to documentary films.

Following the panel, SOCAN hosted a cocktail reception in the private room of Bar Le Furco, to celebrate the Canadian Screen Awards nominations of the past few years. Because in-person gatherings were not possible during the past few years, the nominees of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 editions were all invited to come and celebrate their success.

Don’t miss the 2022 Gala de l’industrie des Gémeaux, hosted by Nicolas Ouellet on Thursday, Sept. 15, broadcast on and on the Facebook page of the Prix Gémeaux – this being the gala where the winners in the music categories will be announced.

The Opening Gala will take place on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 5:00 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on ther ICI ARTV website, and will once again be hosted by Nicolas Ouellet.

The Main Gala will also take place on Sept. 18, at 8:00 p.m. ET. It will be hosted by Véronique Cloutier and will be broadcast on ICI TÉLÉ and its companion website.

Good luck to all nominated SOCAN members!