By Keith Sharp
The stage was set for the 2018 Country Music Awards staged Sunday at Hamilton’s First Ontario Centre when Jess Moskaluke, Kira Isabella and Madeline Merlo opened the CBC telecast with a medley of Shania Twain hits before being joined on stage by the legendary artist herself.
It was Twain’s night in that she was honored with both the CCMA Generation Award and the Apple Fan’s Choice Awards as well as hosting the telecast. But she also acknowledged the breakthrough achieved by Canadian female artists in general with Terri Clark inducted into the CCMA Hall Of Fame and both Jess Moskaluke and Meghan Patrick also claiming key awards.
“My musical influences have always been diverse but Country Music gave me a home, a place where a fast-talking girl from Northern Ontario who dreamt for bigger things for her and her family could be heard,” noted Twain who mounted a major comeback in 2017 with the release of her `Now’ album and a massive North American tour.
With the majority of awards handed out during Saturday’s Gala Dinner, the Sunday night telecast was all about live performances and the array of talent was impressive to say the least. Aside for the Moskaluke, ( Top Album winner for her `Past The Past’ release), Isabella and Merlo duo assembled to honour Twain, a similar trio of Meghan Patrick, Suzy Bogguss and Jessica Mitchell joined Clark on stage to salute her with a medley of Clark’s major hits while Serena Ryder joined Brett Kissel for a mash-up of “Anthem” and “ What I Wouldn’t Do” while Clark performed a duet with Dallas Smith (Male Vocalist winner) on “One Drink Ago”.
With solo performances by Meghan Patrick (Voted Top Female), Lindsay Ell and Jessica Mitchell, Female Artists took the evening’s spotlight but they didn’t have it all their own way. Aussie superstar Keith Urban debuted his latest single, “Never Coming Down”, Vancouver’s Washboard Union celebrated two key group awards by performing their new single “Feel Like That” while Ontario’s James Barker Band celebrated their single of the year win with “Chills” with a rendition of their latest hit “Good Together”
The Reklaws celebrated their SiriusXM Rising Star Award by also hitting the stage to perform “Long Live The Night” as did Hamilton favourite Tim Hicks (singing “What A Song Should Do”, the show closing with Jesse Moskaluke, Paul Brandt, High Valley and The Hunter Brothers’ (who will all be touring together in January) joining forces to perform Johnny Cash’s classic “I Walk The Line”.
The 2019 CCMA awards will be staged In London Ontario before returning to Hamilton in 2020.
Following is a list of key award winners.
CCMA Generation Award – Shania Twain.
Apple Fan’s Choice Award – Shania Twain.
Album Of The Year – `Past The Past’ – Jess Moskaluke
Male Artist Of The Year – Dallas Smith
Group Of The Year – Washboard Union
Female Artist of The Year – Meghan Patrick
Roots Group Of Year – Washboard Union
SiriusXM Rising Star Award – The Reklaws
Single Of The Year – “Chills” James Barker Band
Video Of The Year – Dallas Smith – “Sky Stays Blue”
Interactive Artist – Brett Kissel
Songwriters Of The Year – Alexander Black, Aaron Goodvin, Cathy Gravitt – “Lonely Drum” performed by Aaron Goodvin.