Donald Tarlton accepting his award from Slaight Music President, Derrick Ross
Donald Tarlton accepting his award from Slaight Music President, Derrick Ross

CIMA Honours Industry Notables At Awards Gala

A Who's Who of the Canadian independent music scene gathered in Toronto event space The Glass Factory last night for the third annual CIMA Celebration & Awards Gala, presented by the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA).

The suspense factor was minimal at the Gala, as four of the five major award recipients had been announced well in advance. The fifth category, for the 2017 Marketing Award, featured three contenders: Arts & Crafts for Gord Downie’s Secret Path,  Dine Alone Records for Monster Truck’s Sittin’ Heavy, and Six Shooter Records for Tanya Tagaq’s Retribution

A video presentation for each nominee explored the marketing and creative strategies involved in each album. Arts & Crafts was named the winner, with the label's head Kieran Roy and the project's Juno-winning art director Jonathan Shedletzky accepting the trophy.

Following a strong opening performance by Kayla Diamond of her single "Carnival Hearts," CIMA President Stuart Johnston welcomed attendees to "our evening of wine, honours and song." After outlining different CIMA initiatives, he noted that "there is no shortage of heroines and heroes, mavericks and independent thinkers that keep the music going."

The first honour handed out was the Builder Award, arguably the most prestigious of the night. It was presented by Slaight Music (represented by Derrick Ross) to legendary concert promoter, record label head (Aquarius) and music biz entrepreneur Donald K. Tarlton, more commonly known as Donald K. Donald. Tarlton founded DKD Productions in 1966, and, as was pointed out, he has been instrumental in creating a national star system.

Peers and clients offering video tribute and congratulations included Sam Feldman, Bruce Allen, Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, Ralph James, Arthur Fogel, Jim West, Michael Cohl, Stars, Sum 41, Norm Perry, Chris Taylor, and Jeffrey Remedios (Tarlton invested in the latter two's record labels, Last Gang and Arts & Crafts).

In his acceptance speech, Tarlton noted "I've never been a lone wolf," and generously praised all his business partners and colleagues.

The second award of the evening, for Unsung Hero, went to Steve Jordan, creator of the Polaris Prize. He recalled growing up a music fanatic in Kingston prior to working at Toronto record labels, then dedicating himself to getting Polaris off the ground. His remarks included a passionate plea for artists to be paid fairly, and he pledged that within two years Polaris will have a 50 per cent representation on its board and jury pool.

The Brian Chater Leadership Award was presented to East Coast artist manager and independent label head Sheri Jones (Jones & Co.). Noting that she was the only woman amongst the award winners, she acknowledged the work of her female peers in the industry.

Those contributing video congratulations included Denise Donlon, who termed Jones "a warrior woman." Two of her long-time management clients, Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle (with Stuart Cameron) honoured Jones by performing a song by Joel Plaskett, another Jones client.

The final presentation of the night was of the  Entrepreneur Award, presented by Gowling WLG to Rob Lanni & Eric Lawrence of Coalition Music. Management and label clients Simple Plan, Finger 11, Tom Cochrane, USS  and Our Lady Peace's Raine Maida, plus Toronto city councillor Michael Thompson and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, were amongst those saluting the pair's work ethic and loyalty to their artists.

Recalling their beginnings working with the Toronto band Frozen Ghost (fronted by Robert's brother Arnold Lanni), Lawrence and Lanni explained that "we've been working at desks six feet apart for 30 years now," and their continued camaraderie was evident.

Their acceptance speech was followed by a performance by Charmi, a young artist who has benefited from Canada's Music Incubator, a not-for-profit initiative founded by Coalition Music in 2012.

Two more-established artists, Jeremy Fisher and Zaki Ibrahim, also impressed with their one-song sets.

The convivial event was enhanced by high-quality food and beverages, but the primary takeaway of the celebratory night is that Canada's independent music sector is in very good hands.

All photos courtesy of David Leyes: @davidleyes


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