ECMA 2021 Honorary Award recipients

The recipients of the 2021 Honorary East Coast Music Awards are as follows:

Stompin’ Tom Awards:

Wendy Bergfeldt (CB)

Wendy Bergfeldt brings over two decades of experience to her work as host and producer of Cape Breton's "Mainstreet" and "Island Echoes" programs. She began her career as a general assignment news reporter in a small radio station in Saskatchewan's southwest corner. After having served in a few prairie cities, and a short stint up North (in February), she was given a six week assignment as a studio director with the CBC in Cape Breton, and the Island has been home, for the most part, ever since.

In addition to hosting and producing daily current affairs shows, on-location specials, and live performance events, Wendy was a columnist for CBC radio's "Morningside" with the late Peter Gzowski and the Canadian correspondent for the BBC's "Scottish Connection." She also has several radio and television field production credits from such programs as "Mr Anderson's Fine Tunes", "Travelling Folk", "The ECMA Songwriters Circle." and a number of independent film and video projects. She has been honoured with nominations and awards from several music industry and cultural organizations over the years and in 2010 she was presented with the Royal Canadian Legion's Certificate of Merit for her work in the wider community.

Peter Rowan (NB)

Artist manager, festival provocateur, and industry professional for over 25 years; co-founder of Halifax Pop Explosion and PopMontreal; past management clients include: Sloan, Eric’s Trip, the Hardship Post, Julie Doiron, Motherhood and a host of other weird and wonderful artists. Currently managing Saint John’s traveling noise complaints Little You Little Me, doom folk act Tooth & the Fang, and singer songwriter sensation Sadie; co-hosting and producing the Tin Can Chronicles podcast; producing the Greville Tapes Music Club project, and is co-founder, and lead instigator, of The Quality Block Party; a music and art festival in Saint John.

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers (NL)

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers is a musical and comedy trio from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, which is composed of Kevin Blackmore ("Buddy Wasisname"), Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson ("The Other Fellers").

Kevin Blackmore - raised in Gander NL, suffered identity issues, being a bayman in the wrong place. He moved to Glovertown and got better. Has been a professional entertainer and musician for 47 years, which in his case means he’s been making noise all this time and passing it off as legitimate. His notoriety comes largely from his current ensemble of 38 years - Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. The trio started in1983 and commenced national touring by 1989. The group as created 20 albums and four full length Videos. They have appeared in over 360 towns and cities all over Canada exporting their brand of entertainment to people everywhere, efforts which have won them the Medal for Cultural Achievement from the Government of Canada and Honorary Doctorates from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Politicians and academics think they’re great. Though recently retired from national touring the group continues to entertain at home. Kevin is active with volunteer efforts at the Diamond House in his home town, a small public art and performance facility. He claims to be a visual artist working primarily now in acrylic paints, (no improvement since his grade 1). He is an avid gardener (seed killer) and an enthusiastic hiker, walker, angler and a very poor hockey player. Since the pandemic in early 2020 he decided to build an extension on his workshop and has spent every spare minute there, so should you find him missing (some sort of oxymoron) look there. If you want to know anything more about him call his wife who has suffered him for almost 40 years, she’s the real brains of the outfit. In fact, she’s way more worthwhile knowing, I don’t know why this bio isn’t about her.

Wayne Chaulk

Ray Johnson

Dave Gunning (NS)

Dave Gunning is best defined as a master craftsman. Over the course of 23 years and 11 earlier albums, the Nova Scotian folk singer/songwriter has diligently sharpened his skills, developing into a poetic storyteller and emotionally convincing singer with few equals.

The fruits of those labours are now vividly on display in his latest collection of songs, Up Against The Sky. The relaxed and intimate feel of the record reflects its method of creation. "I focused a lot on tones and the vibe, rather than strategic parts on this one. Many of these tunes were sung and played at the same time, and that prevented me from being able to go back and edit, forcing a little more honesty."

The sessions in Dave's home studio were co-produced by Gunning and Jamie Robinson. Gunning contributed the bulk of the instrumentation, including all the bass parts and even drums on every song but one. Musical guests include his close musical comrade J.P. Cormier on fiddle on "Celebrate The Crop," and Andrew Alcorn on horns on "In The Time I Was Away", while the Atlantic String Machine added subtle yet atmospheric strings on four tracks.

Eight of the ten songs here are co-writes, with Dave's writing partners including Jamie Robinson, Ray Stewart, Thom Swift, Paul McKenna, and Mark Lang. The two solo compositions are "The Loyal Fisherman," an epic ballad of love and betrayal, and "Celebrate The Crop," a lovely fiddle-fuelled celebration of the simple pleasures of the farming life "everyone's coming over and we'll share all that we've got.”

The first single taken from the album is "In The Time I Was Away," a gently reflective look at the changes wrought by absence. "When you’re away from home for large chunks of time on a regular basis you miss things that have happened. Sometimes they’re big things and sometimes they’re the little things," says Dave. Written with Mark Lang, it is punctuated by a horns accompaniment that shows Gunning's ability to add unconventional yet effective musical touches to his material.

There’s also a philosophical feel to "All That's Yet To Come," the opening track on Up Against The Sky, and another highlight of an album devoid of lowlights. It faces the future with an optimistic tone - "I'm proud of the past and all that's yet to come.”

Gunning explains that this is one of a number of songs influenced by a local Pictou County issue that has taken a great deal of his time and energy in recent years. He is a very active member of a group opposed to the release of 70-90 million litres of treated effluent, per day from an older style bleached kraft pulp mill. The proposal is threatening the Northumberland Strait fishery and a Legislated commitment made to the Pictou Landing First Nation community to end what even the Premier of Nova Scotia has called “Environmental Racism.”

Another song inspired by this situation is "Wish I Was Wrong," a mournful yet defiant tune that reaffirms Gunning's ability to pen potent protest songs. "We want a safe harbour, we want a clean shore" he declares, while playing banjo in a tribute to a key inspiration, Pete Seeger.

Another politically-tinged tune that has had a major impact is "Sing It Louder," from Gunning's previous album, 2015's acclaimed Lift. It was the most played song on folk radio in the US for the month of May 2016, and Dave says "I think that it may have resonated with people because it was released during the US election and it’s a call to action song."

Last year, Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier released a duo album, Two, one recently nominated for a 2019 East Coast Music Award. "It was just two guitars and two voices. We have played together on and off for 20 years so it is comfortable for us," explains Dave.

Along with richly-deserved peer respect, Dave Gunning has earned a shelf full of music industry honours. That tally currently stands at eight East Coast Music Awards and two Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus a 2012 Juno Award nomination in the Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year category for his album … a tribute to John Allan Cameron, a compelling homage to another of Dave’s Maritime musical heroes.

His songwriting skill has also been internationally recognized, with tunes scoring victories and high placings in major international songwriting competitions. As a fervent hockey fan, Dave was also thrilled to win the CBC’s hotly-contested Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest in 2014 with “A Game Goin’ On”, a co-write with David Francey. Gunning has also remained in demand as a producer working with many artists.

For now, though, his concentrated focus is on Up Against The Sky. The record, and all that's yet to come from this compelling artist, can be looked forward to with great anticipation.

Tara MacLean (PE)

Prince Edward Island born singer/songwriter Tara MacLean has been an internationally renowned and award winning recording and touring artist for over 20 years. She’s written and recorded five solo albums and two with her band Shaye (with Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle). Tara has been signed to Nettwerk Music Group, EMI Canada, Capitol US and Asia and is still with Sony Music Publishing Canada.

An environmental and social activist, Tara has recently received the Senate of Canada medal for her work in her community, especially in the field of Reconciliation with First Nations. In 2020, she received the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award, as well as Solo Recording of the Year for her album “Deeper” at the Music PEI awards, and an ECMA nomination for Pop Album of the Year.

Her theatre show Atlantic Blue- a Celebration of East Coast Songwriters, that she wrote was a sold out success for three summers on PEI, and played in concert with the PEI Symphony Orchestra. She is the mother of three girls and is working on her first book, as well as a new album.

Though Tara has toured much of the world, her dream was always to come home to her beloved Atlantic ocean, and be a part of the thriving East Coast music scene.

Bucky Adams Memorial Award:

The Gospel Heirs

The history of Afro-Canadians in Nova Scotia goes back well over two centuries. One of Canada's premier gospel groups, the Nova Scotia based Gospel Heirs, formed in 1976 as a four piece group and later expanded to eight members. They have taken the gospel music of their roots, mixed it with the rhythm and blues sounds of the '60s and '70s and added an element of '90s dance music to produce a modern gospel sound that is overwhelming. Their presentation of contemporary gospel music reflects the group's unique identity and their strong commitment to a great Nova Scotian musical heritage.

When the group started performing they were known as the Gospelaires but this was later changed to The Gospel Heirs. With roots going back 200 years, they follow the fine Nova Scotia tradition of family bands. The group is comprised of two father and son pairs, a husband and wife team, a cousin and a family friend. Each of the members of the group has a musical background in the church or in secular bands. As a group they believe that their coming together represents a wonderful opportunity to fully share the excitement of gospel music with audiences everywhere. All members reside in North Preston, Canada's largest black community, and all attend St. Thomas United Baptist Church in their community. The Gospel Heirs commitment to their faith gives them the temperament and drive to maintain their focus on performing gospel music to audiences worldwide.

Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award:

Joella Foulds

Joella Foulds has made music a large part of her life. As a child, growing up on the prairies, she studied piano and sang in choirs. By her university days, the folk era was well underway and Joella, as a singer, was able to bolster her pocket money with coffee house performances. In 1976 Joella completed a Masters of Social Work degree at Dalhousie University. Upon moving to Cape Breton in 1977 she became part of Rita MacNeil’s first band. She began writing songs during the six years she worked with Rita. From 1979 to 1994 she was a broadcast journalist with CBC Radio, resigning to start her own music management company. Along with business partner Max MacDonald she co-founded the Celtic Colours International Festival, which she managed for 20 years until her retirement in 2016. In 2018 Joella released her first album of original songs. Throughout 2020 she continued to write and release songs on line. She also worked with a group of cultural leaders to bring awareness to the plight the arts due to the pandemic. Joella has been awarded the Order of Canada, an Honourary Degree from Cape Breton University, an Industry Builder Award from ECMA, and she was inducted into the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame.

Industry Builder Award:

Jamie Steel

Jamie Steel began his association with the music industry first as a host to touring musicians at his chateau alternatato SALTY TOWERS in St. Andrews NB in 1994.

His involvement expanded in 1997 when he initiated Paddlefest and founded his production and artist management company Periwinkle Productions shortly after that.

As an artist manager/agent Steel began to work with the acoustic roots and blues trio Hot Toddy and instrumental guitar wizard Ryan LeBlanc, both ECMA winners. He also mentored a young David Myles and Owen Steel and guided New Brunswick artists Debbie Adshade, Isaac and Blewett, Keith Hallett, Earthbound and Darrell Grant as well as harmonica great Mike Stevens, bluegrass royalty Raymond McLain, South African fingerstyle guitarist Tony Cox and boogie woogie piano player Alan Gerber. His work with these artists put them on stage to critical acclaim in the Atlantic region, nationally and internationally.

Paralleling this, Jamie continued to present music in St Andrews and throughout New Brunswick in addition to forays around the Maritimes, Ontario and as far away as Whitehorse, staging more than 600 shows since 1994. Salty Towers, has continued to provide respite for more than 1200 musicians over the intervening years. In addition it has been the location for a number of album recordings and continues to provide a creative space for any who want to spend time composing, collaborating or performing.

Jamie has invested his time and energy into the east coast music scene as an ECMA, MNB and St Andrews Arts Council board member, as an arts administrator, a juror and consultant providing lasting support and mentorship for both emerging and established artists, presenters, artist managers and arts advocates. He continues to expand his presenting horizons creating another festival, Winter Warmer in 2010 and a summer concert series on Ministers Island in 2015. Rumour has it that there are a number of new projects in the works!

Musician’s Achievement Award:

Keith Mullins

Born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, music and Keith Mullins, for a quarter-century, have been synonymous with the East Coast Music Scene. His professional career, beginning at the ripe age of 15, has taken him around the world and onto many stages sharing the spotlight with some genuine musical greats such as Matt Anderson, Ron Hynes, Bruce Guthro, Lennie Galant, Gordie Sampson, Jimmy Rankin, Natalie MacMaster, The Mellotones, Garrett Mason and many, many more. In spite of being a largely undiscovered gem, Keith has garnered several industry Awards including two ECMAs and six Music Nova Scotia awards, two of which being musician of the Year. Keith plays over 250 shows a year and is currently touring across Canada to promote his latest album (Onward and Upward). The album, which is available for pre-order, consists of tracks made in collaboration with Matt Anderson, Gordie Sampson, Meaghan Smith and Classified.