Five legendary Canadian names — concert promoter Arthur Fogel, broadcaster Marilyn Denis, and artists Rush, 54.40 and Jann Arden — were celebrated with big awards at Canadian Music Week’s 35th annual Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards (MBIA), Thursday evening in Grand Ballroom of Toronto’s Sheraton Centre.
Attended by a who’s who of Canadians and visiting international delegates in town for CMW, April 18-23, including three days jammed full of industry-focused keynotes and panels and six nights of live music all over the city.
Only the special awards were presented onstage, ensuring that each person was given their due. The other 36 awards were quickly revealed in batches over the course of the two-and-a-half-hour show, as the categories and the nominees flashed on the video screens.
In tributes that mixed the heartfelt with the funny — one much, much, funnier than the others and some, understandably, not funny at all — the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award was presented to rock trio Rush; Arthur Fogel, rock band 54.40 and singer-songwriter Jann Arden who were all inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame; and Marilyn Denis was given the Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award. Executive Susan Marjetti also received the Rosalie Award for a lifetime achievement in radio.
The dozens of other awards were announced over the speakers, as the categories and nominees flashed on screen, this included: broadcasting, live touring, record, retail and other industry categories.
Among the winners were Bruce Allen Talent for management company, The Feldman Agency for booking agency, Live Nation for promoter of the year, iTunes for mass merchant/retail chain, Spotify for digital music streaming service, Warner Chappell Music for music publisher, and Universal Music Canada for major label (see full list below).
In the venue category, Toronto’s Massey Hall won for performing arts centre (over 1500), Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre for performing arts centre under 1500, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for major facility (over 8000), Toronto’s Echo Beach for major facility (under 8000), and Niagara Falls’ Fallsview Casino Resort for casino/specialty venue.
Sonic Boom won for independent record store, Dine Alone Records for independent label, Fontana North for independent distributor, and Revolution Recording for recording studio — all in Toronto.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SPECIAL AWARDS PRESENTATIONS SPEECHES:
RUSH — The Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award
“They have been part of my rock ’n’ roll family ever since my dad, Allan Slaight, launched Q107 in the late ‘70s,” said Gary Slaight. “Playing lots of Rush was a key reason for our early success. In 1982, Rush staged their first benefit concert. It was at Maple Leaf Gardens for the United Way. Dad was chair of the campaign at the time. Since then, they have gone on to help a vast array of charities both collectively and individually.
“They have raised funds for Alberta Flood Relief, Winnipeg’s Museum of Human Rights, Toronto’s Second Harvest, AIDS research, UNICEF to name but a few. For their last series of tours, the band donated one dollar for every concert ticket sold to various charities. That initiative alone has raised over two million dollars.”
The Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, who has already given Rush the keys to the city, and named a park after Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson (Neil Peart is not from Toronto), also came on stage, sporting a Rush t-shirt, to say a few words.
After a tribute video, which highlighted the band’s success and charity initiatives, Slaight also announced that the $40,000 The Slaight Family Foundation gives to a charity of the award recipient’s choice is going to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook — and that the members of Rush will match that amount.
Lee and Lifeson were both on hand. Calling it a “most humbling recognition,” Lifeson said, “Seldom in our times have we felt a greater need for the humanitarian spirit than now, with the rising voices of fear and distrust becoming more commonplace, anger and hatred competing with love and compassion. It is more crucial than ever to champion the basic principles of human welfare.
“We are all capable of promoting these ideals and see it in the courageous spirit of Malala Yousafzai or the unwavering spirit of so many other human rights champions. We are all capable of doing something, grand or humble to further our moral obligation to make the world a better place for all. It should be every person’s hope and intent to follow in the steps of those who lead us in a direction towards compassion, empathy and care for many in need of a helping hand and a gentle pull up. Thank you very much.”
“Just what he said,” Lee added. “I agree with all that. And on behalf of Neil [Peart] as well.”
JANN ARDEN – Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame
Allan Reid, now the president and CEO of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS), recalled how 25 years ago, in his new A&R position at A&M Records, he was holding out to sign a grunge band for his first signing and was planning to pass on Arden because her songs were “a bit depressing.” One day he had a “blow out fight” with his girlfriend and Arden’s demo was still in the car stereo.
The song “I Just Don’t Love You Anymore” is then played to the MBIA.
“That song ripped my heart out, I got to work called my girlfriend and apologized about the fight and then I realized how this song had affected me. All of a sudden the other 14 songs started to make sense.” He signed her and all these years later, Arden — now management by Bruce Allen Talent — is still with Universal.
She also deserves an award for best acceptance speech.
“First of all, I am so happy and honored to be here among so many friends and colleagues tonight, many of you, I have known for 20 plus years. The creative community in this country is mighty indeed, but it is extremely small and tight knit in many ways. I don't think I've ever been to a live show anywhere on the planet and NOT known one of the musicians or lighting guys or sound guys or crew guys — many of whom I have had the pleasure of also sleeping with,” she began.
“I find this a little ironic to be honest, receiving this induction, because I honestly feel like I am just getting started. Everything up until now has been me practicing to be THIS version of myself. In my twenties, I didn't know my arse from a watermelon; in my thirties, I was more or less drunk and rolling through the prairies on a bus; my forties were spent lamenting the lost time in my twenties and thirties and now, in my fifties, I'm like, ‘Thank you Jesus. I can stop trying so hard and just write down good words that I know to be true and do my art without worrying about what anyone is gonna think about it.’
“I have been able to do this because of a long and glorious list of great people. I wish I had the time to name every single person who has ever helped me or better yet, NOT helped me, but we can do that next time, in a ceremony closer to my death.”
And it just got funnier from there, thanking Randy Lennox, who was Reid’s boss at the time, “for your foolishness and terrible business acumen;” calling out Reid’s ex girlfriend by name “for breaking up with him the very week he got my cassette, and therefore crushing his heart which enabled him to appreciate the depth of my dark and complicated soul;” and to agent Vinny Cinquemani for getting her a 45-minute acoustic set for a chocolate company that “paid the equivalent of 30000 dollars cash in you guessed it, chocolate… That job was 18 years ago and I have almost spent a grand worth of those gift cards.”
ARTHUR FOGEL — Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame
Solo Music Agency’s John Giddings and Live Nation’s Michael Rapino both participated in the induction of Fogel, a man Bono called “clearly the most important person in live music in the world,” and has his own documentary entitled Who the F**k is Arthur Fogel? A man of few words, here is a good portion of his speech:
“I could never have written the script on how it started here in Canada and where it has ended up all these years later,” he said.
“From my early days – Ron Chapman + Derek Andrews at The Edge – I knew nothing of being a nightclub manager. Mark, Martha and The Muffins and Gerry Young for letting me drive the van around in circles — with them in it. To Michael Cohl, Norman Perry, and Donald K Donald, my mentors, for teaching me the business in their own way. They provided the best education you could ask for. Michael, for teaching me the numbers and how to chase deals. Norman, for the importance of the music and developing relationships with artists and managers from the early days.
“Donald — who defined the term impressario, the quintessential promoter — on how to generate excitement to sell tickets. And a thank you to the late, great Bill Ballard and Lloyd Brault. To all of those I worked with in those early years, many of whom are still with us at Live NationL Gerry Barad, Susan Rosenberg, Eric Kert, Craig Evans, Tres Thomas, Riley O’Connor, Ken Brault, Steve Howard, Debra Rathwell, and many others – thank you.
“To the great artists who believed in me and have allowed me to be a part of their brilliant careers — the late and greatest David Bowie, who I had the privilege to work with for 25 years. Bono, The Edge, Adam, Larry – U2 of course. Madonna; the members of Rush – so well honored tonight — also Sting, Lady Gaga. It is still surreal to read this,” he paused.
“Neil Young And more recently Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Justin Timberlake I will borrow a line from Bono and say to all of them, thank you for giving me a great life.
“To Michael Rapino – my long time friend and the brilliant leader who has built Live Nation into an amazing artist friendly/global powerhouse – I am proud to be there with you.”
MARILYN DENIS — Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award
Long-time on-air partner Roger Ashby, who introduced Marilyn Denis, said, “We've been on the air together for almost 31 years. While we are two very different people, we connect in a way that family members do. She is the sister I never had and I am the brother she never wanted. But Marilyn's mother saw it differently; she once said, ‘You have managed to stay together because you never had sex.”
Denis, who was the first female DJ at KRPL in Moscow, Idaho, held numerous positions in radio and television in Calgary, Alberta — programmer, music director, traffic reporter — before joining Ashby at CHUM FM in Toronto in 1986. In addition to her long run on radio, she also hosts the Marilyn Denis show on CTV.
“Marilyn is a trailblazer and an inspiration to both current and future broadcasters across this country,” said Ashby.
When Denis took the stage after the tribute video, of Ashby, she said, “I feel lucky and fortunate to have met you, to work with you, and socialize with, for three decades.”
She also thanked the award namesake, Jim Waters and the Waters family, “for giving me so many opportunities in radio and television” and reminisced about being called to Allan Waters’ office in 1987 to discuss hosting the television show CityLine. “Remember,” he said, “Radio is more important than television!”
“I often get asked if I prefer radio over television -- I’ll defer to Randy Lennox. Randy, can you answer that and get back to me?” she said of the Bell Media president, who spent most of his career at Universal Music Canada. “If asked the same question, I know that Rob Farina would say radio -- you put the heart in iHeart radio -- thank you for being so good to my family all these years.”
The Alberta native, who grew up in Pittburgh, Pa., where she received her degree in radio, TV and advertising from the University of Idaho, also thanked Bell Media Radio’s VP of programming for a common interest beyond the airwaves.
“Who knew that years later I would have a young program director, named David Corey, who spent part of his childhood in Pittsburgh -- who understood my love for radio and my devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers?”
54.40 — Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame
The rock band had its biggest hit in the U.S. when Hootie & The Blowfish covered “I Go Blind” in 1995, but in Canada’s it’s been 35 years, 2500 live performances and 17 album releases and they are still going strong. Their new album, their 18th, Keep On Walking, will be coming out on Michael Wekerle’s newly created El Mocambo Records.
“Everyone in the room is thinking the same thing... surely 54·40 must already be in the Hall of Fame?” said United Talent Agency’s Ralph James. Better late than never, and since they’re releasing new music this week, and have a brilliant new record to follow, it’s probably premature. Actually, I can’t wait for you to hear their new music – some of the best they’ve ever written.
“It’s been my privilege to be on their team for almost three decades – I was already a fan when I first became an agent and got to work on the band with Steve Herman. Their management, from Keith Porteous, Jason Grant, to Allen Moy – we all got to work with a band who were always focused, knew what they wanted, and were ready to work as hard as needed. Bands and managers here tonight know how hard it is to keep a band going for a year, five years, a decade – the perseverance required to have longevity like 54.40 is almost inconceivable. 54.40 are busier than ever.”
The band’s frontman Neil Osborne then told a story about one of their first gigs in early 1981 at a place called Gary Taylors Rock Room, “a downtown Vancouver strip club on one level and a rock room on the main floor. “We didn’t have very many songs, so we tried a cover of the Jams’ version of 'Midnight Hour’ — ‘gonna wait till the midnight hour.’ We played it fast and we were so excited , it just kept getting faster and faster and faster still. It got so fast that it just crashed and we had to stop. We were very jumpy that night and it felt, weird, horrible and embarrassing all at once. There was one guy - in the front leaning against a pole with a big grin on his face and a slow clap. That person ending being our manager and still is Allen Moy.”
Complete List of 2017 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards Winners
MUSIC DIRECTOR MAJOR
Lynch – X929 – Calgary and Wayne Webster – Boom 97.3 – Toronto
MUSIC DIRECTOR SECONDARY
Barry Stewart – Live 105/Hot Country 103.5 – Halifax
MUSIC DIRECTOR SMALL
Scott McGregor – 98.1 The Bridge – Lethbridge
ON AIR MAJOR
Garner Andrews – Sonic 102.9 – Edmonton
ON AIR SECONDARY
Biggs & Barr – HTZ-FM – St. Catharines
PROGRAM DIRECTOR MAJOR
Christian Hall – X929 – Calgary
PROGRAM DIRECTOR SECONDARY
Sarah Cummings – K-Lite/105.7 EZ Rock – Hamilton/St. Catharines
PROGRAM DIRECTOR SMALL
Jenn Dalen – Real Country 95.5 – Red Deer
May The Best Friends Win – Indie 88 – Toronto
99.9 Sun FM – Kelowna
BX93 – London
99.9 Virgin Radio – Toronto
98.1 CHFI – Toronto
INDIE 88 – Toronto
STATION CLASSIC GOLD
Boom 97.3 – Toronto
CHIN – Toronto
STATION NEWS TALK SPORTS
680 NEWS – Toronto
104.9 The Wolf – Regina
PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE (OVER 1500)
Massey Hall – Toronto
PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE (UNDER 1500)
Vogue Theatre – Vancouver
MAJOR FACILITY (OVER 8000)
Air Canada Centre – Toronto
MAJOR FACILITY (UNDER 8000)
Echo Beach – Toronto
Fallsview Casino Resort – Niagara Falls
Bruce Allen Talent
The Feldman Agency
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
INDEPENDENT RECORD STORE
Sonic Boom – Toronto
DIGITAL MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE
Revolution Recording – Toronto
Dine Alone Records
Warner Chappell Music
Universal Music Canada
Ben Rayner – Toronto Star
Fanshawe College – London
Steve Waxman – Warner Music Canada