BREAKOUT WEST 2014 ANNOUNCES THE WCMA HALL OF FAME, INDUSTRY BUILDER, AND HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENTS, ALONG WITH WCMA GALA HOST, AND THE FIRST ROUND OF FESTIVAL PERFORMERS.
WCMA GALA HOST
CBC personality and award-winning author Grant Lawrence returns to host this year’s Western Canadian Music Awards Gala. Lawrence is no stranger to playing the host; he has taken up the mic five times the WCMA Gala, not to mention turns at other major music events including the Polaris Music Prize Gala, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, among other festivals around North America. Lawrence regularly conducts industry seminars and keynote addresses on music and media related topics. His second book, entitled The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie, in the fall of 2013, which was an immediate bestseller and won the BC Book Prize for the 2014 Book of the Year (Lawrence is the only BC author to have won this award twice).
WCMA HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENT:
This year’s Heritage Award recipient will be legendary Winnipeg pianist, electric bassist, and composer, Ron Paley. After playing with the big bands of Buddy Rich and Woody Herman, with who he recorded two CDs and played on a Frank Sinatra album, Paley founded the Ron Paley Big Band in 1976. He went on to record several more acclaimed albums with his big band as well as a trio. His big band has played numerous concerts over the years, including performances with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, GroundSwell, and a tour with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Paley has been commissioned by the Royal Canadian College of Organists to compose a work for choir and organ in 2002; the National Arts Centre commission to write a fanfare for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for the Royal Visit; and the Winnipeg Singers for a choral work using Shakespearean sonnet. With no slowing in sight, Paley, who is completing work on a big band musical, has mentored countless Manitoba musicians who have gone on to stellar international careers.
WCMA INDUSTRY BUILDER AWARD RECIPIENT:
The WCMA Industry Builder will be given posthumously to Manitoba’s great music champion, Kevin Walters. Walters, who passed away in June 2014, has been an instrumental part of the music industry in Manitoba. Over his impressive and storied career, Walters was a respected concert promoter, manager, agent, tireless supporter, industry worker, mentor, and a true innovator. He had a massive impact on the industry across Canada, and specifically on Manitoba’s music community. Walters helmed the 2006 Grey Cup Festival, helped to bring the Canadian Country Music Awards to Winnipeg, was a primary founder of the Prairie Music Awards that became the Western Canadian Music Awards and BreakOut West, launched the Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival, organized Manitoba Homecoming 2010 and Culture Days, booked talent at the Red River Ex, was an integral part in bringing The JUNO Awards to Winnipeg twice, and so much more. Walters touched many people and helped foster many careers in his lifetime. The incredible impression he left on the music community across Canada cannot be overstated.
WCMA HALL OF FAME AWARD RECIPIENT:
Recognizing a lifetime of excellence in music, this year’s Hall of Fame Award honours Winnipeg icon, Fred Penner. A two-time JUNO Award winner, Penner is an acclaimed family entertainer, singer, songwriter, composer, actor, writer, author, TV host, and speaker. In his 25 plus years on the stage, Penner has entertained children and adults alike, and is a musical hero to generations. He has released a dozen albums, played countless concerts and prestigious festivals, hosted the hit CBC television show Fred Penner’s Place, was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1991 for “using music and song to entertain and educate his young audience”, and joined the ranks of the Order of Manitoba in 2011. Throughout his career he has also been a spokesperson for organizations like UNESCO, World Vision, UNICEF, and the National Conference on Down Syndrome. Penner has been an inspiration to countless individuals over his long career.
The recipients of the Hall of Fame, Industry Builder, and Heritage Awards will be honoured at the Western Canadian Music Awards Gala event on October 5 in Winnipeg. Before the awards are handed out the weekend will begin with the BreakOut West music festival and music conference, bringing musicians and industry elite together to share their expertise and experiences. Early bird registration for the conference opens today, and closes on August 22. More information and package options for the weekend are available at www.breakoutwest.ca.