Tenille Townes of Grande Prairie, Alta. and Dallas Smith from Langley, B.C. were the big winners at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Calgary Sunday evening.
Townes, who is only 25, was named Female Artist of the Year and won for Single of the Year for her song Somebody’s Daughter. She also won previously announced awards Saturday for Video, and Songwriter of the Year bringing her total to four.
She seemed shocked when her name was called out.
“This is crazy. Thank you so much to the CCMAs. I’m just so proud and grateful to be part of this country music family. Speaking of family I have a lot of family in the house tonight. I love you guys so much,” Townes said choking back tears.
“I’m so proud to be a Grande Prairie, Alberta girl. This has been a year of dreams. I just have to say I grew up listening to Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Terri Clark, Pam Tillis. and Shania Twain singing along in the back seat of the car,” she added.
“This is for all the little girls out there singing along. Please don’t give up on those dreams.”
Smith, who co-hosted the show with Billy Ray Cyrus, won for Male Artist and Entertainer of the Year – which was reintroduced to the award show for the first time in 30 years.
He credits his mother for getting this far and convincing his father to lend him money to make his earliest recordings.
“My mom doesn’t come to these things very often. It’s been a while but my mom kicked the ‘you know what’ out of cancer this year,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for my mom I would never be here, period, for many, many reasons.”
He said the Entertainer Award shows what you can do if you apply yourself.
“I would skip school because I would be so afraid to make that presentation in school and I’d fail a class. This is what happens when you get the right team behind you and you push yourself, you challenge yourself. You overcome those things.”
Brett Kissel was the recipient of the Fan’s Choice Award.
“This is like the Stanley Cup right here for me in my business right here. We had the best times of our lives this year thanks to you guys, seriously. This is so amazing and something I don’t take for granted,” Kissel said.
The first award of the night went to The Washboard Union, for Group of the Year. The Album of the Year, Feels Like That, went to The Reklaws, a brother and sister act from Cambridge, Ontario.
“That was almost the most unexpected win. When they asked us in the beginning what are you most excited about as far as your nominations we were like album is pretty cool because everybody in that category we have looked up to for so long,” said Stuart Walker.
“When they said our names we’re like what?”
Jade Eagleson, from Millbrook, Ont., won the Rising Star Award.
“Oh man, I didn’t expect this. I know this is like every country singer in the world to say ‘Thank you, Jesus’,” Eagleson said.
“I gotta thank my mom and my dad for supporting me all of these years, my Nana used to print lyric sheets out for me and I used to listen to all that old country and practice. I’m trying not to cry really hard right now.”
Billy Ray Cyrus and Terri Clark kicked off the show with a blast from the past.
Cyrus reached to yesteryear with a rendition of 1992’s Achy Breaky Heart and was joined on stage by Clark, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
Cyrus has enjoyed renewed popularity with his appearance on Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road.
The remix, featuring Cyrus, helped launch the single to No. 1 on Billboard’s main chart for a record-breaking 18 weeks.
He said Calgary holds fond memories for him.
“Mine started in Calgary at a bowling alley, called the Silver Dollar Saloon,” he said. “It was right there at that bowling alley that I got my very first gold record.”