The 4th annual CIMA Celebration & Awards gala proved to be wildly successful, attracting a top-tier list of music biz entrepreneurs to the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on June 11.
Close to 250 music mavericks and innovators packed the venue to celebrate accomplishments, honour five of their own, and listen to some music. The evening got underway with a 90-minute pre-show meet-and-greet in a salon with twin bars. From there, the audience settled in the main hall that was re-arranged as a dinner theatre, presided over by Odario Williams, where they were warmed up by newcomer Ryan Langdon who kicked off the 180-minute gala on a high note with a performance of his current hit single, "Leave Me Right." The Slaight Music signing from Niagara Falls executed himself well with an impressive baritone voice and his no-frills stage delivery.
A former musician-turned lawyer (his law firm now known as Taylor Oballa Murray Leyland), Taylor has represented some of the best in Canada's music scene, including Nelly Furtado, Drake, Billy Talent, and Metric. When, after several years, he was unable to get Metric a record deal, he invested $35K of his own money and partnered with Donald Tarlton to form Last Gang Records. It proved to be an instant success. Two years ago he sold the entertainment firm that included management and publishing arms, to eOne and is now the Canadian firm's global head of music.
Breaking protocol, she unspooled for 20 minutes to spin her story about leaving Kenya as a young child with her mother and sister and not much more than the clothes on her back, and how she has made good fiercely fighting for her clients. Her story was at times amusing, inspiring, and highly personable, and if there were any in the room unaware of her rep in the community, the standing ovation at the end of her tale said it all.
Jim West earned the Builder Award for his contributions to CIMA over the years and his extraordinary accomplishments as the founder of Justin Time Records, named after his son who now runs the label division (Justin has also founded and now runs the successful independent label Secret City).
The Montreal-based Justin Time has survived 35 years, even after taking stinging losses following a spate of music retailers going belly-up. He is also notable for having a canny ear for jazz, being the first to sign Diana Krall, and having had a rewarding run with Montreal notables Paul Bley, Oliver Jones, and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.
Dave Bookman took to the stage to receive the Unsung Hero Award. Better known as Bookie on the air, he has been a fiercely independent voice on Toronto radio since 1991 and runs a longstanding free Nu Music Night each Tuesday at the Horseshoe. Bookan is now heard on Indie88.
Arts & Crafts, Cadence Music and Six Shooter Records squared off for the Marketing Award, the one category where the winner was not named before the event. Each company received recognition with video spools providing an overview of one marketing strategy: Arts & Crafts for Broken Social Scene's Hug of Thunder, Cadence Music for Headstones' Little Army, and winner Six Shooter for Whitehorse's Panther in the Dollhouse.
It was a proud moment for founder/president Shauna de Cartier who in 18 years has built a diversified, artist-centric entertainment firm encompassing management, recording and concert promotion with a roster that almost exclusively focuses on roots and Americana genres. In her gracious acceptance, she recognized her business partner Emily Smart. Artists recording for Six Shooter today include such recognizable names as Whitney Rose, Strumbellas, Tanya Tagaq, Luke Doucet, and Whitehorse.
As mentioned at the top of the story, Langdon warmed the audience up with a performance. Also featured on stage were Taurey Butler, Lowest of the Low's Stephen Stanley, and a trio comprised of Sam Cash, Hayden and Serena Ryder–all of whom received worthy applause.
The show was scripted by Martin Melhuish who, as ever, scrupulously provided context to the evening's celebrations, inserting the fact that 100 years ago Compo Records was established, marking the birth of the first indie label in Canada. Founded by Herbert Berliner, the son of recording pioneer and inventor of the gramophone, Emile Berliner, the company eventually became known as MCA Records Canada and is known today as Universal Music Canada.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1993, Mark Milne, Tim Potocic and Sandy McIntosh, members of the band Tristan Psionic, launched Sonic Unyon. Five years later, the Hamilton-based company branched out into distribution and then, about a decade ago, started Supercrawl--Hamilton's free music and arts festival that marked the firm's expansion into event-based businesses.
Ron Kitchener, who has been named Record Company Person the Year numerous times at various country association award events, founded Open Road Recordings 15 years ago to develop and release music from artists he personally believed in. Some of the acts along the way have included Taylor Swift, Johnny Reid, the Road Hammers, and Dean Brody.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary is MDM Recordings, the Canadian indie label, distributor and artist management company founded by Mike Denney. The imprint, which is home to three-time CCMA award-winner Jess Moskaluke, has been twice honoured as record company of the year at the CCMAs and twice the No. 1 indie record company.
– All pics courtesy of David Leyes.