Edmonton-born singer Dan Davidson took home four honours at the 2016 Association of Country Music in Alberta (ACMA) Awards on Sunday night at the Sheraton Hotel.
Davidson’s song Found won him Single of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year.
“I never thought this song could’ve done so much heavy lifting,” Davidson said from the podium after receiving his third award. By the end of the night, he was also named ACMA Rising Star, his fourth award.
A few Red Deer artists were nominated for awards as well.
Alecia Aichelle’s release Golden was nominated for Album of the Year. That award went to Drew Gregory’s I Was There.
Aichelle, born and raised in Kelowna, had her beginnings singing in church and learned piano through the Royal Conservatory. She was introduced to country music by her parents and stuck to it even though the genre wasn’t considered “cool” growing up.
“I was really the only one in my school who loved country music and was really into that. I would get teased quite a bit,” Aichelle said.
Shortly before moving to attend Red Deer College’s music program, a large tumour was discovered and removed from her thyroid gland. Doctors said her vocal cords were permanently damaged from the surgery and that she would never sing or talk again.
However, she made a full recovery six months later. Throughout the experience, Aichelle said she was strengthened by her faith.
“When I did regain my voice it was definitely a miracle and definitely gave me that validation that this is what I’m meant to be doing, really where I’m supposed to be,” she said.
Golden, her debut full-length album, was partly recorded in Nashville.
“There’s quite a mix of stuff from fun songs, real kick up your heel songs, there are some songs about love, heartbreak,” she said. “And there is a song I wrote about what I went through with my voice and being in a broken place and getting put back together again.”
Jamie Woodfin and Steve Arsenault, a pair Red Deerians, were nominated for Male Artist of the Year, which was ultimately awarded to Bobby Wills.
Woodfin was also nominated for the Rising Star award. Born in Ponoka, he started writing songs as a teenager.
He was happy to be recognized as a nominee and to be among his peers.
“It’s really cool to get together with all my musician friends and colleagues. We’re celebrating everyone’s success over the last year,” Woodfin said.
Last July, he was selected as a Top 12 finalist for the Project Wild Country Artist Development Program, which teaches up-and-coming artists in Alberta how to be successful in the music business. The top finalist is awarded more than $100,000 in prize money.
“They brought in some excellent coaches. They brought in a vocal coach that does behind the scenes work on The Voice. They also brought in record executives to explain to us what labels want to see out of us emerging artists. It was a big mentoring program,” Woodfin said.
The P.E.I.-born Arsenault made Alberta his home in 1999. He recently took a one-year hiatus from music to re-evaluate if that’s what he wanted to do. The answer was yes.
“It was an eye-opener. It made me realize I can’t quit my passion,” Arsenault said.
“I’m just happy to be nominated. It’s great to be here with so many friends and fellow artists and musicians.”
One of his singles this year is Heart and Soul, a love song that starts softly but crescendos to a powerful ending.
“That came to life in the studio with my producer Justin Kudding. He came up with that idea and once he mentioned that, I thought it was just perfect for the song. It worked out nice.”
He released a second single this year, called Easy.
Both Arsenault and Woodfin said they have new music in the works.
Awards were handed out throughout the evening, spread between performances by Dan Davidson, The Dungarees, Amy Metcalfe, TwoShine County, Ken Stead, Trevor Panczak, Bobby Wills, Brad Sims, Drew Gregory, Woodfin, Blake Reid and the Travelling Mabels.
Those in the dinner gallery rose to a standing ovation for Jackie Rae Greening, the 2016 ACMA Hall of Fame Inductee.
Greening is a long-time broadcaster in country music and is currently program director for 840 and 910 CFCW, and manager of operations for Newcap Radio. She has also served on the host committees for Country Music Week Edmonton over the years, and a director of the Canadian Country Music Association.
Other awards were awarded as follows – Fan’s Choice: Bobby Wills; Musician of the Year: Lisa Dodd; Female Artist of the Year: Trinity Bradshaw and Group/Duo of the Year was Domino.