Toronto hip hop artist and recent Polaris Music Prize winner Haviah Mighty and Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday are the inaugural winners of SOCAN Foundation’s Her Music Awards, sponsored by Re:Sound. The honour came with $5000 and a trophy of resin and wood, made by Indigenous-owned Design de Plume.
The Her Awards were presented to the pair at a reception at George restaurant in Toronto on Feb. 6. Speakers included SOCAN Foundation’s president Victor Davies, executive director Charlie Wall-Andrews (the brainchild of the award), and SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste.
“Female creators, producers and artists today still face challenges they must work hard to surmount in our business,” said Davies. “Thus awards like Her Music Award, dedicated training, workshops and other forms of encouragement, all of which I would call the web of affirmation,” he said, giving the credit for this idea to SOCAN’s Mike McCarty, chief membership & business development officer, and Rodney Murphy, senior director of A&R.
“Affirmations are so important to support female talents to grow and thrive and be sustained so ultimately we can hear their unique voices and they can take their rightful place informing the songs and stories of our world,” Davies continued.
Wall-Andrews thanked Davies and the board for “allowing this to happen,” going on to call the evening — the Her Awards finally coming to be — “surreal.”
“We started thinking how can we do this, how can we bring this concept to fruition, a couple of years ago — because there is a need,” she said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate women-identified music creators in our sector, across Turtle Island. This award was essentially designed to recognize the artistic excellence of female-identified artists who do make incredible work, really building momentum in their career, and we wanted to support them and celebrate them as they continue on that trajectory.”
The Her Awards had over 400 applicants. “That tells us there is a huge demand for this,” she said.
The winners were selected by Criss Derksen, Frannie Holder, and Martine Groulx. “All applications were evaluated on the basis of the quality of their musical work, career potential, as well as the impact that receiving an award would have on their personal development as an artist,” according to the press release.