There are a lot of familiar names nominated and performing at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards this year — Paul Brandt, Gord Bamford, Tim Hicks, Dean Brody, Jess Moskaluke, Jim Cuddy, and Blake Shelton to name a few — but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to get to know the next generation of Canadian country music artists.
The SiriusXM Rising Star Award nominees for 2017 are a thrilling selection of young, dynamic musicians. Some have already found success in radio and on tours, others have been blowing up on YouTube, but this is a real opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of talent Canada has to offer.
From foot-stomping folk monster jams to unconventional break-up duets, here’s a quick guide to the 2017 SiriusXM Rising Star nominees before the big ceremony on Sept. 10 at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatchewan, broadcast on CBC-TV at 8 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. NT) and live-streaming via cbcmusic.ca/ccmaawards.
Nominee: Dan Davidson
From: Edmonton, Alta.
Key song: “Found”
About: The rock ’n’ roll musician (he’s the guitarist-turned-lead-singer for Tupelo Honey) moved into country music in a big way, making a splash in 2016 with the viral music video he made for “Found,” the second independent single off his forthcoming debut. The song is a thrilling foot-stomper that’s all about the redemptive powers of love, and features some killer fiddle work and indie-folk clap-alongs for a decidedly contemporary fusion of past and present. The video, which Davidson says he made for just $500, is unlike anything country music has ever seen before, and his most recent music video, “Say We Did,” is equally outlandish. It’s Davidson’s fresh, scrappy, creative approach that won him four of the five categories in which he was nominated at the 2016 Alberta Country Music Awards.
Nominee: Aaron Goodvin
From: Spirit River, Alta.
Key song: “Woman in Love”
About: It’s a classic story: small town kid journeys to the big city, guitar in hand and a song in his heart, dreaming of making it big in show business. Well, sometimes dreams really do come true — or at least they did for Goodvin. The singer-songwriter honed his craft and made a few trips to Nashville before finally signing a publishing deal and scoring a major hit co-writing the song “Out Like That,” which was on Luke Bryan’s multi-platinum 2013 album, Crash My Party. But rather than go the route of permanent collaborator, Goodvin put himself squarely behind the mic and the first few singles from his self-titled debut have blown up. “Knock on Wood” was a top 40 hit on Canadian country radio and he’s followed that up with two top 10 hits, “Woman in Love” and “Lonely Drum,” all of which showcase different scopes and depths to his songwriting.
Nominee: James Barker Band
From: Barrie, Ont.
Key song: “Chills”
About: The Canadian country group, led by James Barker, wowed everybody and won the Emerging Artist showcase at the Boots & Hearts Music Festival in 2015 and inked a deal with Universal Music the following year. The band released its debut EP, Game On, earlier this year and two singles (“Lawn Chair Lazy” and “Just Sayin’”) so far have made it onto the top 10 Canada Country chart. The most recent single, “Chills,” dominated the chart, coming in at No. 1.
The tracks all have a self-assured confidence with glossy production — and can easily stand Stetson to Stetson with other modern country megastars — but the band still wants to surprise. “Chills" opts for restraint rather than crescendo, and sits lower and darker in its arrangement, defiantly refusing to perpetuate a deliberately carefree facade. The James Barker Band will be performing live at the CCMA Awards.
Nominee: JoJo Mason
From: Regina, Sask.
Key song: “Red Dress”
About: Formerly an aspiring hockey star, Mason’s career in the juniors was cut short when he suffered a herniated disk in 2004 and was forced to find new passions. Luckily, he ended up meeting songwriter/producer Dan Swinimer and discovered a talent for tackling arena-ready country pop and rock. Mason’s debut, the hook-heavy 2015 single “It’s All Good,” co-written by Swinimer and Tim Hicks, made the top 10 Billboard Canada Country charts, and in 2016 he signed to 604 Records, home to rock heavy hitters like Nickelback (whose lead singer, Chad Kroeger is a co-founder) and pop royalty like Carly Rae Jepsen.
Nominee: Meghan Patrick
From: Bowmanville, Ont.
Key song: “Be Country With Me”
About: With her 2016 debut album, Grace & Grit, Patrick established herself as a singer-songwriter ready for the spotlight. She counts Chad Kroeger and Vince Gill among her collaborators (the former co-wrote her breakout track, “Bow Chicka Wow Wow”) and she’s shared the stage with the likes of Gord Bamford and opened for Tom Cochrane. She also scored a top 10 hit on the Canada Country charts with “Still Loving You,” a break-up duet with Joe Nichols that subverts sad country clichés, celebrating instead of mourning a relationship’s end. But to hear Patrick at her most stripped-down and simple, check out this great Eagles cover she did with the Washboard Union. Both Patrick and the Washboard Union are performing at the CCMA Awards.
This is paid content produced by or on behalf of SiriusXM.