Aboriginal Artists and the 2008 Canadian Country Music Awards

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The festivities for the 2008 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) in Winnipeg were fantastic and Aboriginal artists were all over the events. The week included a Ray St. Germain concert at the Club Regent Casino and Shane Yellowbird at the Palomino Club on Thursday, the Songwriter’s Cafe, festival kick-off party and six Aboriginal venues on Friday, the CCMA FanFest, Industry Brunch, Manitoba Music showcase and five Aboriginal venues on Saturday, the Gala Dinner and Shane Yellowbird at the EMI party on Sunday and the big award show with a performance by Crystal Shawanda at the MTS Centre on Monday.

Ray St. Germain’s show at the Club Regent Casino on Thursday night featured the release of his new CD along with performances by his five children and three of his grandchildren. The show was sold out and the Casino added a second night to meet the demand. Earlier that evening Shane Yellowbird held down a solid set for the CBC at Winnipeg’s legendary Palomino Club.

The Songwriter’s Cafe was hosted by Ray St. Germain on Friday afternoon at the Delta Hotel. The event was well attended and Manitoban songwriter Ashley Robertson and Saskatchewan’s Donny Parenteau joined Ray on stage for a couple songs.

Friday night was extremely busy and began at the McPhillips Street Station Casino with an opening reception for delegates and the New Artist Showcase. AMP Camp 2007 participant Mitch Daigneault performed for close to 500 country music industry folks at the showcase earning praise for his smooth delivery and solid songwriting. Later that evening Strongfront Records presented C-Weed, JC Campbell and Billy Joe Green at the Pyramid Cabaret, NCI FM and the CIMNetwork showcased the talents of Tracy Bone, Highway 373, JC Campbell, Jerry Sereda, Rayne DeLaronde, Fred Moose and Holy Vee at the Norwood Hotel, Darren Lavallee performed at the Country Corral, Darryl Sanderson entertained the audience at the Lincoln Hotel, DJ St. Germain held down the Pony Corral, and 100 Years Rising performed at the Westbrook.

Saturday started with the Industry Awards Brunch at the Winnipeg Convention Centre where several awards were presented for talent buyers, agents, managers and broadcasters. The afternoon included a performance by Shane Yellowbird on the Scotia Bank Stage for close to 8,000 people at the CCMA FanFest. The evening entertainment was anchored by the Manitoba Music showcase featuring Tracy Bone at the Windsor, along with another night of Aboriginal artists presented by the CIMNetwork at the Norwood, and Darren Lavallee, DJ St. Germain, Darryl Sanderson, and 100 Years Rising at their respective weekend venues. Donny Parenteau also performed at the Club Regent Casino on Saturday night.

A second set of awards were presented on Sunday night at the Gala Dinner. This was followed by a reception at the Delta Hotel Ballroom and a party for guest of EMI at the Pyramid Cabaret where Shane Yellowbird performed. The CIMNetwork presented fourth straight night of Aboriginal artists at the Norwood on Sunday evening as well.

Monday’s main event was the big CCMA show at the MTS Centre where Crystal Shawanda performed her hit single “You Can Let Go.” The show was entertaining and Manitoban greats Doc Walker completed a clean sweep for all the awards they were up for. Later that night the CIMNetwork completed their weekend run with an after party featuring Highway 373, Don Amero, Jerry Sereda and Holy Vee, while DJ St. Germain performed with special guests at the Pony Corral.

Even though the CCMA didn’t include an Aboriginal category, Aboriginal artists were well represented throughout the categories. Crystal Shawanda was up for Single of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, her reality show on CMT was in the running for Country Music Program or Special of the Year and her music video director was up for Video Director of the Year. Shane Yellowbird was nominated for Male Artist of the Year while his team earned nominations for CCMA All-Star Band – Steel Guitar, Management Company of the Year, Record Company of the Year and Record Company Person of the Year. Donny Parenteau was in the running for CCMA All-Star Band Award – Fiddle.

Furthermore, several CCMA delegates made their way across the city to take in performances by Tracy Bone, Highway 373, Ray St. Germain and a number of the other players from Manitoba’s Aboriginal country music community.

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