CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – For East Coast artists, the road to recognition can be a long and winding one.
Often getting their start playing pub gigs and benefit concerts, these musicians spend years developing their performance and songwriting craft before landing gigs at soft seat theatres or in summer festivals.
Then, when they are export ready, musicians can find themselves touring for days, weeks or months at a time.
So, when they finally get recognized for their work, it’s recognition well-earned.
On Prince Edward Island, one solo artist is experiencing this for the first time. KINLEY has received four nominations for her debut album, “Letters Never Sent”.
“It’s amazing. I’ve been playing music my whole life, so I feel like I’ve been getting ready for this moment,” says KINLEY, who received nods for rising star and best pop recording of year for her debut album “Letters Never Sent”. She's also up for best song and fans' choice video for “Microphone”, which describes the night 15 years ago on which KINLEY said a young man she barely knew sexually assaulted her at a post-prom field party.
And, even though she’s attended the annual festival/conference previously with the groups she’s performed with, the 2018 East Coast Music Awards are “special.”
“It’s amazing. It’s only me this time. And playing with Hey Rosetta! for the past 10 years has helped me prepare for it.
“I’m also looking forward to performing with a live band at the awards show,” says KINLEY, who will be joined on stage by her father, Alan Dowling, drums, producer, Colin Buchanan, bass, Mara Pellerin, keyboards, and Aaron Comeau, guitar.
Well-known for her work with Dennis Ellsworth and Hey Rosetta, KINLEY is one of four P.E.I. ECMA nominees to watch out for during the award ceremonies, Thursday, May 3, 8-10 p.m., live at The Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, via Bell Alliant or streaming at ECMA.com.
Jenn Grant is another. Her album, “Paradise”, has received nominations for best pop, album and solo recording of the year, songwriter of the year, song of the year for “Galaxies” and fans' choice video of the year for her “Galaxies” video.
“I’m very happy about it. It’s nice to be included (on the list) because the record is something I’m proud of. Also, my husband, Daniel Ledwell, produced this album, and I think it shines a light on his talents, as well,” says the P.E.I. native who calls Halifax home.
In recognition of her six nominations, Grant will play some shows during the festival.
“So, I’ll have my band with me,” says Grant, who will perform Friday at The Marquis Ballroom at midnight and Saturday at Fan Fest on Argyle Street at 12:10 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. It’s free. She will also be part of CBC’s East Coast Music Hour at 5 p.m.
Besides sharing her music, she’s excited about reconnecting with her musical friends.
“It’s usually a nice reunion,” says Grant.
Perhaps the greatest reunion will take place Sunday afternoon during the songwriters’ circle at Casino Nova Scotia. Grant will be sharing the stage with Lennie Gallant, Alan Doyle, Carleton Stone and Rose Cousins. She’ll also perform at the East Coast Music and Industry Awards on Sunday at 7 p.m.
“There’s a great group of artists on the East Coast, and it’s great to be part of it.”
The recognition is, perhaps, greatest, for artist Rose Cousins, who has received eight nods for her album, “Natural Conclusion”.
“It’s an honour to have that many nominations. It’s an honour to be doing this work for over a decade and still be recognized. I feel very lucky,” says the P.E.I. native who has received nods for best folk, solo and album of the year, songwriter of the year, song of the year, “Grace”, fans' choice entertainer of the year, fans' choice video of the year for her video, “Chains”, and video of the year for “White Flag”, directed by Shehab Ilyas.
It’s also an affirmation of Cousins’ work.
“It’s interesting to be the person with the most nominations this year whereas when I was starting out it was Sloan or Joel Plaskett. It’s also nice to be part of such a beautiful community,” says Cousins who will perform in Thursday's award show.
And, with that comes a feeling of pride.
“I feel proud to be from and live on the East Coast and be a part of such a rich music community; proud to be among the amazing P.E.I. women leading the nominations this year. Proud to be working as a musician and extremely thankful to have the support of my fellow artists and our loyal listeners. I'm honoured to have my record in the mix this year. Support from home is the richest."
The East Pointers are also glad to have support from home. The roots/traditional band consists of guitarist Jake Charron, banjoist Koady Chaisson and fiddler Tim Chaisson.
“P.E.I. is the most supportive musical community in the world, and we are proud to be representing it across the world with our fellow musical sisters and brothers from this beautiful Island,” says Koady, in a previous interview.
Currently, the touring band is in the United States, where members are scheduled to perform at the North Fest in North Carolina and the New Orleans Jazz and Folk Festival, in the next week. They will return to Halifax in time for the ECMA Awards Show on May 3. The band is nominated for best folk and group recording as well as songwriter of the year for “What We Leave Behind”.
If you are going
What: 2018 East Coast Music Awards.
When and where: May 2-6, Halifax
Schedule and information: Go to http://ecma.com.