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This article was published 26/9/2020 (385 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
William Prince was the big winner Friday night at the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards.
The Peguis First Nation singer-songwriter took home three trophies, including two of the biggest — songwriter of the year and recording of the year (along with roots solo artist of the year) — thanks to his album Reliever.
Manitoba was well-represented during the livestreamed event (due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions) celebrating the work of artists from Canada’s four Western provinces, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Winnipeg group Mariachi Ghost, which mixes mainstream rock with Mexican themes, traditions and mysticism, was named global artist of the year, and also earned visual media composer of the year for a song used in the 2018 film Octavio is Dead!
While saying the group is grateful for the honours, singer/guitarist Jorge Requena Ramos said Canada’s music awards — all the way up to the Junos — need to be redesigned, so performers of colour are better represented in mainstream categories.
"We feel that the global category, as good as it was to win it, is a ghetto-izing category," Requena Ramos said. "We feel like we’re being othered by having to go into this category. It took us a long time to realize what that feeling was... We want to make sure those artists who come after us have the opportunity we didn’t have."
The eight-piece group performed Comales, from the 2019 album Puro Dolor, during the livestreamed event.
"We could have potentially participated in the pop and rock categories through our career. We didn’t feel like we belonged, and that’s wrong. But we didn’t feel that if we applied to the rock category, even after 10 years of our career, that we would be considered because we are too ethnic for it. We want things to change," Requena Ramos said.
Other Manitoba performers who took home WCMA hardware included Winnipeg singer-songwriter Begonia (breakout artist of the year); Big Dave McLean (blues artist of the year); Kelly Bado (francophone artist of the year); Apollo Suns (instrumental artist of the year), and Dizzy Mystics (metal and hard music artist of the year).
John Paul Peters of Winnipeg was named producer of the year and audio engineer of the year. The Winnipeg Folk Festival was honoured for impact on live music. The Village Idiots, a Winnipeg music organization that hosts the Live at the Roslyn livestreaming music series, earned a WCMA for impact on music marketing.
The WCMA Heritage Award was given posthumously to Gerry Atwell, who died in November 2019 at age 60.
The Winnipegger was a singer and keyboard player with Juno Award-winning group Eagle and Hawk, among other bands, but was also known for the advice, encouragement and fundraising know-how he supplied younger musicians.
"Gerry was a talented musician, an inspiring mentor, an advocate and an organizer, a composer and a writer and a true champion of music and community," Sean McManus, executive director of Manitoba Music, said. "We miss his wisdom and his guidance and, of course, his joyful, boundless energy onstage."
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.