Catherine MacLellan  Photo: Dave Brosha
Catherine MacLellan Photo: Dave Brosha

Music News Digest, Dec. 28, 2020

Music PEI has announced the nominees for the 2021 Music PEI Awards, and Catherine MacLellan leads the way with eight nominations. Rachel Beck earns seven, with Dylan Menzie, KINLEY and Sarah Hagen tallying six nods, and Brielle Ansems five. Also being handed out during Credit Union Music PEI Week (set for March 3-7) will be an additional six Board Awards as selected by the Music PEI Board of Directors. Membership voting for the genre awards is now open until Jan. 5. The Entertainer of the Year category is voted on by the public and the nominees are Catherine MacLellan, Dylan Menzie, Rachel Beck, The East Pointers, and Vishtèn. Public voting for the 2021 Entertainer of the Year will close at 5 pm AT on Jan. 5. More info here

– Justin Bieber is teaming up with T-Mobile to kick off the New Year with his first full-length, live concert since 2017. It airs live on Dec. 31 starting at 10:15 pm ET, with two additional re-airings on Jan. 1 at 5 am ET, and 3 pm ET. The show features a 5-piece band, dancers, and, reportedly, a famed location. Non-T-Mobile customers can purchase access for $25 here

– Canadian Music Week is going virtual in 2021. The festival component runs May 17-21, and the conference May 18-21. Stay tuned here for more information on speakers, panels, and how to register. Nominations for the 2021 Jim Beam INDIES are opening soon. More info here.

– On Dec. 3, famed Quebec rock band Harmonium released the instrumental album Harmonium Symphonique - Histoires sans paroles, and it has just been certified gold record by Music Canada, recognizing the 40,000 copies sold. This result is all the more remarkable since the album is offered on a single platform, the Oziko store. Histoires sans paroles, the first symphonic project from the group features its compositions adapted by Simon Leclerc and performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) under his direction. Totalling more than 140 minutes of music, Histoires sans paroles is a co-direction by Serge Fiori and Simon Leclerc, under the artistic direction of Nicolas Lemieux, president of GSI Musique. The double album, available exclusively at, is the band's first release since L'Heptade 44 years ago.

– Canadian online concert booking platform Side Door Access is about to hit a major milestone, reaching the $1M mark in ticket sales. To celebrate, it is presenting The Million Dollar Unicorn Show, on Jan. 31: 1 pm PST/4 pm EST. Artists are TBA but expect a talent-heavy lineup. Tickets here are $20, with all proceeds going to the Unison Benevolent Fund.  Nearly 500 artists have booked with Side Door since it started in 2017. Read more about the company here

– MusicNL and The Telegram release the top six contenders for the 2020 Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year Award. They are Fairgale, Jason Benoit, Mallory Johnson, Nick Earle & The Reckless Hearts, Rachel Cousins, and Rum Ragged. Voting closes on Dec. 31. Click here to vote. The winner of the award will be announced during MusicNL Week taking place online Feb. 1 -7, 2021. 

– ACTRA Toronto has announced Jani Lauzon as its 2021 Award of Excellence recipient. The Métis multi-disciplinary artist is an award-winning screen actress, a Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, a Gemini Award-winning puppeteer, a director and filmmaker. Lauzon sings the blues, jazz and traditional Indigenous music. She was twice nominated for the Juno Aboriginal Recording of the Year awards and once for Best Female Traditional award at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. She has released three albums, Mixed Blessings, Thirst, and Blue Voice, New Voice.

– Canadian Tara Jamieson moved to Dublin to go to medical school, but things got complicated last year when she made an attention-grabbing appearance on the hit TV show Ireland’s Got Talent. She kept studying, but posted weekly music videos to her own YouTube channel, in a series called Tunes with Tara. She recently released a single, Let Go. Check out her IGT appearance below. Source: Talent Recap

– The Canadian Media Fund's new Development Pilot Program — Experienced Producers supports projects in the development stage by experienced producers where no Canadian broadcaster is attached. It is now accepting applications until Jan. 21. More info here

– The Markham Jazz Festival's Annual General Meeting takes place over Zoom on Jan. 10, at 1 pm. The AGM includes a presentation of the 2020 Financial Statements, the election of 2021 Directors, and “Year in Review” highlights of the 2020 MJF Virtual Concert Series. To register before Jan. 10, email  

– Ongoing pandemic lockdowns have made the situation for music venues across the country dire. The latest Toronto club under threat is rock 'n roll bar Cherry Cola's, and owner Cherish Stevenson has been forced to start a GoFundMe page to keep the doors open. It is receiving a very positive response.

– The Drake Hotel’s What’s in the Box series has annually brightened the Toronto live music scene in the fallow period from Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve. It returns this year, but obviously in virtual form. The Unmasked series, from Dec. 26 to Dec. 30, features 14 underground acts over 5 nights, at 9 pm on DrakeTV. On Dec. 29 (9.30 pm), Odario Williams performs material from his new EP, Good Morning Hunter.

– It is the season of Best of 2020 lists, and Paste has included three Canadian artists in its Top 40 Best Rock Albums list. They are acclaimed Polaris Prize shortlisters Andy Shauf and U.S. Girls and newcomers Gum Country, an indie-rock duo comprising Courtney Garvin (The Courtneys) and Connor Mayer. 

– English folk multi-instrumentalist Tim Edey has just been declared winner of the BBC Alba/Scotland Musician of the year. His next venture is the release of a charity single version of the classic song Fields of Gold, featuring renowned Cape Breton Natalie MacMaster, whose husband, fiddler Donnell Leahy, is also featured on Edey’s new album I Got Rhythm.

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