Home News Folk Music Ontario ends ‘popular voting’ for the Estelle Klein award

Folk Music Ontario ends ‘popular voting’ for the Estelle Klein award


Folk Music Ontario has just opened nominations for this year’s Estelle Klein Award, the closest thing Ontario has to a lifetime achievement award for people involved in the province’s folk scene.

And this year, the board and not the membership at large will be picking the winner.

Roots Music Canada was among the individuals and entitles that raised concerns about the previous process, which involved members receiving a ballot with the list of nominees, along with a detailed nomination package, and being asked to vote for the winner.

The nomination packages included 1,000-word nomination letters and 250-word bios.

Estelle Klein recipient Ian Tamblyn was among the first to sound the alarm, saying that the process turned the selection of a lifetime achievement award into a popularity contenst and favoured artists in southern Ontario, where the majority of FMO’s members reside.

I agreed and editorialized on the matter here.

Several other members of the community, including other Estelle Klein winners, weighed in on our Roots Music Canada Facebook group in support.

FMO suspended the awarding of the Estelle Klein Award winner last year, while it asked a committee to look into the concerns.

It instead chose to honour all of the nominees with a video presentation during the Ontario Folk Music Awards.

“We received a healthy amount of engagement,” the organization wrote in a notice to members, “and based on the responses from the community, FMO is implementing the following recommendations for the 2023 award.”

These changes are as follows:

  • FMO is introducing an Estelle Klein Community Builder Award, essentially for mid-career community members that are actively enriching and supporting folk music in their local communities and throughout the province.
  • FMO will hire a publicist to promote the winners of the awards.
  • FMO will continue the career retrospective videos for the winners.
  • The FMO board will select the winner from the slate of nominees.
  • FMO will no longer publish the list of nominees for the award.
  • The Estelle Klein interview will return in the form of a live taping of FMO’s Re:Folk:Us podcast. It will be released at the time of, or before, the 2023 FMO Conference.


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