Polaris Music Prize nominee Mustafa and alt pop sensation Ariane Roy have both earned the 2021 Slaight Music Emerging Songwriter Award, presented by the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Established in 2017, the Award celebrates the current achievements and bright futures of Canadian songwriters in their early careers. One Anglophone and one Francophone winner are determined by a music industry jury. In addition to receiving a cash prize and access to songwriting camps, the winners will attend the SOCAN Awards in Toronto in the spring of 2022.

“Songwriting and composing are the lifeblood of the Canadian music industry; therefore, it’s vital that we support, foster, and inspire the next generation of creators – and more importantly, shine a spotlight on the depth and diversity of talented songwriters within our communities,” said Nicholas Fedor, Director, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.  “Congratulations to Mustafa and Ariane Roy; we’re so excited to be a part of your music trajectory and continued success (as well as more great music) to come.  Thank you to Slaight Music, and to all the fans who voted online to show their support for this year’s finalists.”

Toronto-based poet and recording artist Mustafa released his debut album When Smoke Rises in May of 2021, and it was short-listed for the 2021 Polaris Music Prize. After losing several friends to gun violence, he coped with the losses through his interpretation of folk music. He’s produced a documentary titled Remember Me, Toronto about hip-hop culture in Canada, and has co-written songs for The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers. Mustafa has been listed as an Artist to Watch in 2021 by i-D, British Vogue, and Complex magazines, among others.

“I am humbled that my attempt at seeing the hood; a world within a world in this country, can be celebrated,” said Mustafa. “I want kids in poor neighbourhoods across this country to re-tell the stories of their intersections, so their accounts can be marked in time. Hopefully, moments like this can continue to encourage them.”

The Québec City-based Ariane Roy was nominated in the pop EP category of the GAMIQ (Gala de l’alternative musicale indépendante de Québec) Awards for her 2020 debut release AVALANCHE, and one of her songs, “Ta main,” reached the finals of the Prix de la chanson SOCAN in 2021.

“I’m so happy to receive this honour, and to be in the company of artists I admire,  and who inspire me so much,” said Roy.

Past winners of the Slaight Music Emerging Songwriter Award include Lowell (Anglophone), Les Louanges (Francophone), Jessie Reyez (Anglophone) and Charlotte Cardin (Francophone).

Nearly 100 SOCAN Awards in 23 categories will be presented to Québec’s most successful songwriters, composers, and music publishers for their tremendous accomplishments in 2020, as part of the celebration of winners at the 32nd SOCAN Gala, set to be held online on Oct. 5, 2021.

To kick off the awards, SOCAN travelled to the Festival de musique émergente (FME) in Abitibi Témiscamingue to present a surprise first trophy to Shreez in the Hip-Hop/Rap Music category, during his performance, in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

“It is the greatest pleasure to be the recipient of this SOCAN award. I and my team are proud and grateful to see that all of the work we have done in this campaign is paying off,” said Shreez.

For SOCAN Chief Membership Officer Jean-Christian Céré, the presentation of the SOCAN Award to Shreez at FME was the perfect first presentation. “Shreez had an outstanding year in 2020, even through the pandemic,” said Céré. “And the FME is a proud SOCAN-licensed business, always understanding the importance of fair compensation for, and promotion of, music creators and publishers. This surprise award ceremony launches our annual celebration honouring the incredible talent and creativity of Québec’s songwriters, composers, and music publishers, who’ve managed to amaze us despite the hurdles they’ve faced. October 5th will be a day to shine a thousand lights on them.”

The SOCAN Gala for Francophone music creators and publishers is being held online for the second year, beginning on Oct. 5, 2021, during which a host of award winners, video interviews, thank-you videos, trophy unboxings, and a musical performance will be presented throughout the week via a dedicated SOCAN 2021 Gala website, and on SOCAN’s social networks @socanmusique.

Montréal’s SOCAN Awards Gala is the Francophone equivalent of the annual SOCAN Awards show in Toronto which celebrates the Anglophone songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

Dance-pop duo The Darcys have won three SOCAN No. 1 Song Awards; their 2013 album Warring was nominated for a JUNO Award; they were a long list nominee for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize; and they toured, worldwide, before the pandemic. But their career has had a few twists and turns. In a video interview with SOCAN, Jason Couse and Wes Marskell briefly discussed their pivotal experience at the “SOCAN on the Island” Song Camp, on B.C.’s Pender Island, in 2017.