The seventh edition of the Gala Country Awards was held at Salle André Mathieu, in Laval, on Oct. 19, 2019, and it was the ideal time and place to take the pulse of the Québec country music scene in 2019. Is there a renaissance of the genre, with the increasing popularity of so-called “new country”? Is commercial radio more open to the genre nowadays? Is there a schism between the veterans and the upstarts in Québec? We asked Paul Daraîche (Show of the Year), Mack & Ro (Group of the Year), Annie Blanchard (Covers Album of the Year), and Matt Lang (Breakout Artist, Anglophone Album and Male Entertainer of the Year) for their takes on all of that.

East Coast artist and professional songwriter Chris Kirby has more than two million Spotify streams of songs that he’s co-written. He’s the touring keyboardist for Matt Andersen (and co-wrote “An Honest Man” with him), and has earned multiple East Coast Music Award nominations, including several for Producer of the Year. Recent producing and co-writing credits include Quote the Raven and Chris Ryan, and Kirby has participated in numerous song camps, sponsored by SOCAN, the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA), and the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC).

In an exclusive video interview with SOCAN on the release of his first album in seven years, What Goes Around, Kirby talks about what he’s learned from song camps; how he came up with some of the album’s most striking lyrical lines; and more seriously, how he and Damhnait Doyle co-wrote “Unreasonable Doubt” – the moving story of a sexual assault trial destined for an unhappy end, told from the perspective of the judge.

Chris Buck won the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year honour, for co-writing the song “Good Ol’ Days” (performed by the Chris Buck Band), at the 43rd annual British Columbia Country Music Awards (BCCMAs), held Oct. 20, 2019, in the Molson Canadian Theatre at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver.

The winning song was co-written by SOCAN members Ryan Stead, and Anthony Fiddler, and is co-published by Hyvetown Music Inc. and Strathcona Music.

The other nominees were:

  • “Ain’t Gonna Be Lonely Long,” written by Chrystal Oudijk, Gavin Slate, Jimmy Thow, Travis Wood, performed by Sons of Daughters
  • “Holy Smoke,” written by Mitch Merrett, Jimmy Thow, performed by Black Mountain Whiskey Rebellion
  • “She Gets Me,” written by Aaron Grain, Chris Duncombe, David Roberts, Gordie Sampson, performed by The Washboard Union
  • “Somethin’ To Roll On,” written by Kadooh, Jeff Johnson, Carly Dawn Campbell, Jesse Wainwright, performed by Kadooh

The big winner of the night was Aaron Pritchett, who took home the honours for Entertainer, Male Artist, Single (“Better When I Do”), and Album/EP (Out on the Town) of the Year.

SOCAN congratulates all of the winners, and their entire teams. For a complete list of winners, click here.