Listen to your Folk Music Ontario Songs from the Heart award winners
Folk Music Ontario announced the winners of its annual Songs from the Heart awards last week.
The awards celebrate songwriters from across the province and bestow upon the winners a $500 prize and a complimentary registration to the next conference.
There were five categories this year – the number of categories has varied over the years.
Have a listen to this year’s winners.
Children’s: The Relative Minors – “A Successful Career as a Dog”
I don’t know what actual children think of this song, but this middle-aged writer thought it was hilarious. And that’s really saying something, considering most kids music is borderline intolerable. The production values here recall 80s pop rock and are vaguely reminiscent of Weird Al Yankovic. So, for that matter is the theme. I mean seriously, who writes a song begging employers to hire their dog? As someone with an absurdist sense of humour, I feel I have discovered kindred spirits in the Relative Minors.
Instrumental: Graham Lindsey – “Fractions”
It’s probably no surprise that Graham Lindsey won the instrumental category with this tune, given that it’s a veritable showcase of Graham’s ability to play in odd time signatures. The piece oscillates between 9/8 and 10/8 in the first half, and the second half is 9/8, 10/8, 9/8 and 12/8. So what inspired this masterpiece, you ask? Apparently watching an outtake video from the Carol Burnett Show online.
“I got about a minute in, had the first part of the tune, and had to turn off the video because I realized I’d created something new, different, and cool … or perhaps lame,” Graham said. Note to musicians struggling with writer’s block: try Carol Burnett.
Political: G.R. Gritt – “Quiet Years”
It’s been exciting to watch the artistic evolution of G.R. Gritt from a solo roots/blues-influenced artist to the co-creator of the Juno-winning ensemble Quantum Tangle to a solo artist incorporating some of the electronic elements of Quantum Tangle into their work. “Quiet Years” is a moving song about the generations during which Indigenous people had to keep their culture undercover in order to preserve it. It’s understated and powerful all at once.
Roots: Jessica Pearson and the East Wind – “Ready My Heart”
Truly good music sounds good even without fancy production values, and Jessica Pearson demonstrated this by recording a version of this single from the band’s forthcoming sophomore album in the laundry room! We’re not sure exactly when Jessica and fiddler Maddy O’Regan will release that new project to the world. It’s possible Jessica’s a little sidetracked with her songwriting career right now. A couple of years back, she cowrote what would become one of the final singles for American country star Joe Diffie before he died due to complications from COVID-19.
Singer-Songwriter: Mattie Leon – “All The Time”
Hamilton’s Mattie Leon has written a veritable theme song for the power of positive thinking movement – not so much the arm that tells you you can manifest wealth if you just think about it enough, but the part that tells us to notice the good things around us even in hard times. Perhaps it’s good to be reminded in the midst of a pandemic, an election and a climate crisis that there’s still good in the world. It’s never been so easy to forget!