Home Feature Meet your Western Canadian Music Award-winners in the roots/world categories

Meet your Western Canadian Music Award-winners in the roots/world categories


The Western Canadian Music Awards were handed out Thursday night in Kelowna, B.C., and the winners in the roots and world categories include some familiar faces and some new discoveries.  Have a listen!

Blues Artist of the Year – The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer 

This duo of Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers won two WCMAs for their last album in 2015 and were nominated for a Juno in the blues category, and they had to beat out the venerated Jim Byrnes for this award, so you know they’re worthy of your attention if you happen not to have ever checked them out before.  Shawn’s got a unique voice with a ton o’ soul, and the duo has a killer sound that marries vintage blues with contemporary rock and pop in a way that vaguely recalls the White Stripes. 

Indigenous Artist of the Year – Celeigh Cardinal 

Celeigh is a Métis artist from the Peace Country with a versatile contralto voice that’s powerful enough to rip into a sassy blues number but understated enough to sing a sweet three-part harmony folk song.   She’s also a formidable songwriter.  She was the recipient of a REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award last year from the Hnatyshyn Foundation in Manitoba, and she participated in the (Re)Claim program at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2016. She also received a Youth Role Model Award from the Spirit Seekers Conference in Grande Prairie and was appointed the Cultural Ambassador for the 2010 Arctic Winter Games. 

Roots Duo/Group of the Year – The Dead South

Another well-known act on the winner’s list, Regina’s the Dead South have taken bluegrass in a new direction thanks to the distinctive fractured vocals of Nate Hilts and a dose of punk rock attitude.  Their video for “In Hell I’ll be in Good Company” racked up more than eight million views, so if you haven’t seen it, it’s possible you’re the only one.  Here’s their brand new video for “Boots.”

Roots Solo Artist of the Year – Leeroy Stagger

Alberta-based roots rocker Leeroy has released 11 albums since his debut nearly 20 years ago, and he keeps getting better with each one.  He won 102.7 The Peak’s Peak Performance Project in 2015.  He’s toured with Steve Earle, the Pixies, Modest Mouse and Evan Dando, and he’s had songs featured in Grey’s Anatomy and Sons Of Anarchy.

World Artist of the Year – Kelly Bado

Originally from the Ivory Coast, the golden-voiced Kelly, who sings in French, settled in Canada in 2007 and is presently based in Winnipeg.  Work with Chris Burke-Gaffney, who previously worked with Chantal Kreviazuk, led to a showcase in Los Angeles and a meeting with LA-based Canadian singer, songwriter and percussionist Andy Stochansky – of early Ani DiFranco fame – with whom she is now collaborating.   She has a new album coming out next year!




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