Belly, Chanté, Current score nominations

Brian Current has come a long way from his days of busking in the ByWard Market.



"Security used to have to shoo us away," the former Ottawa resident chuckled.



That would never happen now.

Current was one of three Ottawans nominated for a 2008 Juno Award yesterday, alongside Belly (New Artist of the Year and Rap Recording of the Year) and Keshia Chanté (R&B/Soul Recording of the Year).

The trio joined musical heavyweights such as Céline Dion, Anne Murray, Feist, Avril Lavigne and Michael Bublé as nominees for Canada’s premiere music awards yesterday in Toronto.

Current, who was nominated for Classical Composition of the Year for This Isn’t Silence — released on a disc of orchestra music of the same title — said it took him almost 10 years to release the disc.

Before he started composing seriously in his mid 20s, he was in the Ottawa band Jacob’s Ladder and sang in choirs around the city. "I know every sidewalk in Ottawa," he said. "When I visit I feel like I know every tree."

Now a four-time Juno nominee, Chanté said she was thrilled when her mom and manager called her yesterday to tell her she was nominated.

"It could be my 20th album and I’d still be very excited," said the Ottawa native. "With every album there’s always a bit of anxiety. I just hope it goes well, that my fans like it and people get it."

The 19-year-old, who now splits her time between New York City and Toronto, still has a great affection for Ottawa and says she gets a lot of support from her hometown.

"They’re always rooting for me," she said. "To them it’s a huge deal. It’s very exciting."

Ahmad Balshe — better known to his fans as Belly — said yesterday he was "very thankful" to be nominated for New Artist of the Year and Rap Recording of the Year.

"It feels good to be recognized," he said.

Despite his successes, the 23-year-old bought a house in Greely, where he plans to stay.

"This is where my fondest memories are from," he said of Ottawa.

The city has lots of opportunities for aspiring musicians, Belly said. "There’s opportunities everywhere. Anytime you can plug something into the wall, you make opportunities. Opportunities don’t make itself."

The 2008 Juno Awards are held on Sunday, April 6 in Calgary.