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Hanney lights up Young Performers’ stage

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He just won the Galaxie Rising Star award as part of the Winnipeg Folk Festival’s Young Performers Program, but Norwood musician Adam Hanney isn’t letting the honour go to his head.

"It’s nice to be recognized but I was just happy to be part of it all," Hanney, 20, said last week.

‘It all’ is the festival’s program for young musicians, which has run for 15 years and developed to the point at which 42 musicians between the ages of 14 and 24 -- including Hanney, WCMA nominee Cassidy Mann, Sc Mira and more – took over the Shady Grove stage at the festival’s Birds Hill Park site on Friday, July 11, to perform in five different workshops.

The YPP was launched as a way of exposing young artists and giving them an opportunity to hone their performance skills and, of course, play at the festival. In the days prior to their shows, they are mentored by pros actually booked to play the Folk Fest.  Chad VanGaalen, Dave Bidini, James Keelaghan, John K Samson and Oh My Darling have served as mentors in past years, and this year’s group included Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and Alexa Dirks, Andrina Turenne, Annick Bremault and Sacha Daoud of Chic Gamine.

Past participants in the YPP, such as Kacy & Clayton, Sweet Alibi, Del Barber, Jordan McConnell, Karla Adolphe and Brandy Zdan have all returned to the festival as mainstage and workshop performers who were booked on their own merits.

"The mentors always come away from the experience talking about how much they enjoyed it," said Chris Frayer, artistic director of the Folk Festival. "It gives them an opportunity to learn how to relate to and teach younger performers, which can mean adding another option to the things they are able to do as part of their ongoing careers.

"And the performers, well… the fact we end up booking a lot of them on their own speaks for itself."

Galaxie, the Canadian streaming music service (familiar to most as part of their cable TV packages), came on board as a sponsor of the Young Performers Program in 2010 and Frayer said its support has enabled the program to expand.

Hanney, who has been performing since he was 16 and just completed his fifth year as part of the festival’s YPP, says that, while taking possession of a Yamaha electric/acoustic guitar (the prize for being named Rising Star) was nice, his focus for the rest of this year remains on finishing his first album.

"I set myself a goal in 2012 of writing a song a month, which I did, and since then I’ve been working on turning it into a full album, which is nearly finished," he said.

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