Jazz singer Kellylee Evans and R&B/soul singer Savannah Ré are the latest grand prize recipients of SOCAN Foundation’s Her Music Awards, chosen by a committee mostly comprised of fellow songwriters, chaired by Shakura S’Aida.
Honourable mentions went to Haley Blais, Jorane, Moire & Claire, Tanika Charles and Zeina.
Past recipients were the band Caveboy and Juno-nominated Nuela Charles in 2021, and Juno winners Haviah Mighty and Leela Gilday in 2020.
During an intimate presentation at George’s restaurant in Toronto on Feb. 9, about 70 members of the music industry, the majority women, gathered to celebrate the third installment of the awards designed to “support female-identifying Canadian music creators on the verge of taking their creative careers to the next level.”
Among the guests were music industry executive Denise Donlon, Honey Jam founder Ebonnie Rowe, Warner Chappell managing director Vivian Barclay, Straight Up Management’s Michael Gorman (Charmie, Tynomi Banks) and Advance Music Canada’s executive director Keziah Myers.
As people caught up post-covid and dined on canapés at one of the city’s top restaurants, harpist Rose Soenen performed familiar songs on the beautiful instrument. Later, to cap the event, up-and-coming singer-songwriter and guitarist Charmie performed a couple of numbers.
The presentation was fairly short. Nuela hosted, and Haviah and SOCAN CEO Jenn Brown announced the winners and presented the trophies.
“I was so surprised and honoured to hear that I had been chosen for this award alongside Savannah Ré,” said Evans, in a press statement.
“As my career shifts and changes with the years, my love for creating has not dampened. This recognition gives me the affirmation and the energy to keep going, despite the challenges along the way. I’m so thankful,” added the Juno winner who has opened for everyone from John Legend to Willie Nelson and released her latest EP in late 2021 called Greenlight. Evans’ career experienced a setback when she was struck by lightning, then suffered a concussion, but she is now back to what she loves.
In her own press statement, Ré said she was “So happy an award like this even exists. Winning the Her Music Award is a significant achievement because it’s an award that empowers and recognizes female creators.”
The two-time Juno winner, who has written with Babyface, Jessie Reyez, Boi-1da, Wondergurl and received praise from SZA and Timbaland, said, “It highlights our talents and contributions to the music industry. It also helps to promote and support female artists in the industry, which can be especially important in an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. This award will open doors for me and help me pave the way to reaching my goals in my career.”
Applications for the Her Music Awards were adjudicated on a number of factors, including artistic merit, career potential, and impact. The jury was composed of Cécile Doo-Kingué, Carole Facal, Kesi Smyth, Suzie Ungerleider, and jury committee chair Shakura S’Aida.
Evans and Ré each both received $5000 and a one-year membership from the Songwriters Association of Canada (S.A.C.) and Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ). The five runners up each got $1000.
The Awards are administered by the SOCAN Foundation, with financial contributions made by SOCAN Foundation and Bandzoogle.
“We couldn't be happier to support this amazing initiative from the SOCAN Foundation, and we wish these incredible artists continued success in their careers,” said Bandzoogle CEO Stacey Bedford in a statement.
The SOCAN Foundation is part of performing rights association SOCAN’s Group of companies, guided by a board of directors, and provides grants for Canadian music creators and publishers.
Pictured L to R: SOCAN Foundation executive director Charlie Wall-Andrews; award winners Savannah Ré and Kellylee Evans; SOCAN CEO Jenn Brown, at Her Music Awards, George restaurant, Feb. 9, Toronto — photo courtesy of Strut Entertainment