Pair of Valley musicians up for awards
COURTENAY — Leading the pack of nominees, Comox Valley’s own Helen Austin and Emily Spiller are two of the many musicians vying for an award at the Vancouver Island Music Awards (VIMA) gala, which for the first time, will take place in their hometown.
Working in conjunction with the annual Vancouver Island Music Business Conference, the VIMAs are a celebration of local talent, while bringing awareness to local, independent music, explained James Kasper, founder and producer of the awards at a press conference Wednesday.
“A big part of the mandate of our event is to bring awareness of independent, local artists to the public who may to some extent only be bombarded with commercial, major-label artists, and may not know what’s in their own backyard,” he said.
Following a three-year hiatus, the awards — which are scheduled for June 23 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay — are coming to the Valley for the first time, following stints in Victoria and Nanaimo.
Kasper says changing the location to the Valley makes sense as the music business conference takes place between June 22 and 26.
“We’re excited to be bringing the event to the Comox Valley ... (the awards) are a smaller version of the Junos ... it’s modelled loosely after those shows. We alternate between a performance of one song by a nominee and a presentation of an award ... and some silliness from the hosts,” he added.
In addition to a Producer of the Year nominee with Scott Feldman, Austin is nominated for Female Songwriter of the Year, Female Vocalist, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year, while Spiller is nominated with Adam Percy for Producer of the Year, Female Songwriter of the Year, Female Vocalist, Song of the Year, and Artist of the Year.
VIMA received more than 70 submissions from artists around the Island, and a jury of seven members that includes broadcasters, music directors and singer/songwriters narrowed down the final nominees.
Kapers notes the music industry on Vancouver Island is growing, and hopes the awards, in addition to other events which bring musicians and the public together, will help make the public more aware of homegrown talent.
“(The industry) is growing little by little. All of us are trying to contribute to that, whether it’s media, the Island music business conference or our events, hopefully it’s all contributing and growing. It’s the type of scene where it’s artist-driven and there’s a lot of great talent on the Island,” he added.
Tickets for the award show are available at the Sid Williams box office, or call 250-338-2430. For more information, visit www.islandmusicawards.wordpress.com.