Several artists earn multiple awards at Halifax ceremony



Andrew Vaughan/canadian press


George Canyon picked up three trophies, including entertainer of the year, at the East Coast Music Awards


Tears mixed with laughs when the best musicians in Atlantic Canada gathered Sunday night to pat backs, play a few tunes and bid farewell to a trio of trailblazers.

George Canyon, In-Flight Safety, Joel Plaskett Emergency and J. P. Cormier each walked away with three awards following the East Coast Music Awards gala at the Halifax Metro Centre.

During a two-hour awards show broadcast nationally by the CBC and hosted by the Trailer Park Boys, Canyon added the new pieces of silverware to an already bulging trophy case.

The Nova Scotia country singer was named entertainer of the year for the third consecutive year. It was the only award voted on by fans.

“God is so good,” said Canyon, resplendent in a glittery western suit and black Stetson.

Canyon, who came out of obscurity in 2004 by finishing second on the Nashville Star talent search, has won more than a dozen awards since, including a Juno in 2005 and the Canadian Country Music Awards fan choice honour.

Besides the nod from the fans, the granite-chinned singer from Pictou County also won for video of the year and country recording of the year for Somebody Wrote Love.

“I’m scared to death to let a lot of this success in the last three years sink in,” Canyon said later. “That’s the God’s honest truth.”

Andrew Vaughan/canadian press

Jill Barber was a double winner.

In the night’s emotional centrepiece, three Maritime legends who died in the past year — Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas, Celtic pioneer John Allan Cameron and bluesman Dutch Mason — were remembered in a moving tribute that included performances by recent Grammy winner Gordie Sampson, Shaye, Canyon and Ashley MacIsaac.

Cormier, who performed many times with Cameron, became emotional when he told reporters about a late-night conversation he had with the Celtic troubadour in a hotel room several years ago.

“He really thought he was going to be forgotten,” Cormier said. “He wasn’t bitter about it. It was poignant.

Jill Barber, an Ontario-raised singer-songwriter who moved to Halifax almost five years ago, won two awards on the strength of her first full-length release, For All Time. The album was named FACTOR recording of the year. She also won for solo female recording of the year.

Barber, who grew up in Toronto before moving to the Maritimes, said she came to the city on a whim. “I knew Halifax was great for music and I felt the calling,” she explained to reporters later. “But I never would have expected to find myself, as far as music.”