Folk Music Ontario presents three major annual awards: the Estelle Klein Award, the Songs From the Heart: Stingray Rising Stars Award, and the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award. The Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award is presented in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council.

Songs From the Heart

Application period: April 3 – May 31, 2017

Folk Music Ontario’s Songs From the Heart songwriting competition is generously sponsored by Stingray Music. This event highlights the creations of songwriters and provides an opportunity for the winners to showcase their work for the FMO community. The competition is open to residents of Ontario and the National Capital Region, as defined by the boundaries indicated by the black dotted line on this map.

A jury selects two grand prize winners: one English and one French. The winners each receive a Stingray Rising Stars Award of $1,000.00, and one registration for the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference. Prizes of $100.00 FMO credit are awarded to the winners of each of five sub-categories: Children’s, Humorous, Instrumental, Multicultural and Political.

The English and French Songs From the Heart award winners and sub-category winners are all invited to showcase their winning songs at the FMO conference.

The Songs From the Heart jury changes every year. It always consists of three or more jurors, who proceed through a number of rounds of judging before making their final selections. Before distributing songs and lyrics to the jurors, FMO makes every effort to keep the judging process fair by removing any names or notes that may identify the composer of a submitted song.

Online applications for the 2017 FMO Songs From the Heart competition are provided through a partnership with Marcato Digital.

2016 Songs From the Heart award recipients

The grand prize winners of the 22nd annual Folk Music Ontario Songs From the Heart songwriting competition, generously sponsored by Stingray Music, were:

Stingray Rising Stars Award – English:
Kaïa Kater-Hurst for “Paradise Fell”

Stingray Rising Stars Award – French:
Mike Ford for “Je reviendrai”

In addition, the Songs From the Heart jury chose the winners of four sub-categories:

Children’s Tim Machin for “The Booger Song”
Humorous Noosa Al-Saraj for “The Dating Song”
Instrumental No entries in 2016.
Multicultural Angela Saini & Brian Donkers for “Here I Go Again”
Political Kaïa Kater-Hurst for “Rising Down”

Please click here to read the full press release.

Past Overall Winners

  • 2015 – English: Allison Lupton – “One More Day”
  • 2015 – French: Melanie Brulée and Anique Granger – “Antidote du doute”
  • 2014 – English: Ian Tamblyn – “Away”
  • 2014 – French: Jean-Marc Lalonde – “C’est toi que ça me prend”
  • 2013 – English: Bill Candy – “Idle Never More”
  • 2013 – French: YAO (Yaovi Hoyi) – “Pensées-soleil”
  • 2012 – English: Tucker Finn – “Headed for Nowhere”
  • 2012 – French: Philippe Flahaut – “Seul dans l’auto avec la radio”
  • 2011 – English: Brenley MacEachern & Lisa MacIsaac – “The Ransom”
  • 2011 – French: Yvan Vollé – “Solitude”
  • 2010 – English: Ambre McLean – “Me, My Heart, And The Moon”
  • 2010 – French: Louis-Philippe Robillard – “Le Pommier”
  • 2009 – English: David Leask and Bruce Madole – “While I Still Breathe”
  • 2009 – French: Cindy Doire and Colin Linden – “Pêché de la mer”
  • 2008 – English: Michael Laderoute – “A River I Know”
  • 2008 – French: Amélie Lefebvre – “Je t’attends”
  • 2007 – English: Catherine McInnes – “Waltzing on Eggshells”
  • 2007 – French: Charlie Sohmer – “Marie Anne Lagimodiere”
  • 2006 – English: Ana Miura – “He Swallows Whiskey”
  • 2006 – French: Phil Lafrenière – “Je Pleure et Je Perds”
  • 2005 – English: Melwood Cutlery – “Ballad of the Moonlight Lady”
  • 2005 – French: Jean-Guy ‘Chuck’ Labelle – “Le Calumet de la Paix”
  • 2004 – English: Michelle Rasky – “Into the New”
  • 2004 – French: Darryn Grandbois – “Oh! Canada” and Michel Payment – “Ouendaké”

» See the complete list of awards presented in the Songs From the Heart competition since its inception in 1995.

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Estelle Klein Award

2016 EKA recipient Anne Lederman

Nomination period: April 3 – May 31, 2017

Each year, Folk Music Ontario honours the work of an individual or group that has made significant contributions to Ontario’s folk music community. The award is named after Estelle Klein, a long-time advocate of Canadian folk music and one of the early founders of the folk festival scene in this country. The recipient of the Estelle Klein Award in 2016 was Anne Lederman.

Originally from Manitoba, Anne Lederman has been called “a national treasure” (Gary Cristall, Vancouver Folk Festival) and “one of the most talented musicians in the country” (Derek Andrews, Luminato). Anne is a founding member of Muddy York, The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, LOKA, Eh?!, and Lederman/Bell, as well as leading her own groups, Come From Every Way and Fiddlesong. She was the resident fiddler on Road to Avonlea and has appeared several times on CBC’s The Vinyl Café, Morningside and Fresh Air. Featured on over 50 CDs with other artists, she has 5 CDs under her own name of original and traditional Canadian songs and tunes: Not a Mark in This World, 7 Cats, Come From Every Way, Fiddlesong and now, Old Man’s Table: Tunes from Grandy Fagnan.

Anne has performed at festivals, concerts, dances and schools throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and was the first Canadian to perform at the Viljandi Traditional Music Festival in Estonia. Known especially for her work with the Aboriginal fiddle traditions of her home province, Manitoba, her recordings have helped make this music known to the world. She works extensively with theatre, composing and performing for The Blyth Festival, Rosemeath Theatre. Her own play, Spirit of the Narrows, about discovering the world of First Nations and Métis fiddling, was named the “Best of 2015” by Hamilton’s Arts paper, View. Anne has mentored generations of young fiddlers with her original teaching series: Tamarack’er Down: A Guide to Celtic-Canadian Fiddling Through Rhythm (currently taught at both York University and the Royal Conservatory of Music) and is the founding Artistic Director of both Worlds of Music Toronto and of World Fiddle Day Toronto. She continues to perform, teach and compose nationally and internationally.

Anne received her award at the FMO Conference Awards Brunch on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Delta Ottawa City Centre.

To download the full press release, please click here.

Past Winners

  • 2015: Sadie Buck
  • 2014: Harvey Glatt
  • 2013: Mike Stevens
  • 2012: Arthur McGregor
  • 2011: Paul Mills
  • 2010: Grit Laskin
  • 2009: Sharon, Lois & Bram
  • 2008: Bernie Finkelstein
  • 2007: Stan Rogers
  • 2006: Richard Flohil
  • 2005: Ken Whiteley
  • 2004: Sylvia Tyson
  • 2003: The Friends of Fiddler’s Green
  • 2002: Ian Tamblyn
  • 2001: Jackie Washington
  • 2000: Estelle Klein

Estelle Klein Award videos

From 2010-2012, and again in 2014-2015, Andy Frank produced videos about each year’s Estelle Klein Award winner. A brief tribute video was produced by Dennis Landry in 2013. In 2016, Graham Lindsey undertook the project of producing the Estelle Klein Award video about recipient Anne Lederman. Click here to view these videos.

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The Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award

Colleen Peterson

Ontario Arts Council LogoThe Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award was established to help support and promote the work of Ontario-resident emerging singer/songwriters in the genres of roots, traditional, folk and country music. The annual recipient is chosen by an Ontario Arts Council (OAC) selection panel from nominations put forward by Folk Music Ontario’s Songs From the Heart competition jury.

Ontario singer-songwriter Colleen Peterson had a soaring voice, engaging stage presence and a proven songwriting talent. The recipient of two Juno Awards, Colleen collaborated with a long list of folk, roots and country musicians, and was a founding member of the celebrated group Quartette. After a year-long battle with cancer, Colleen passed away at the age of 45 in 1996, and was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Colleen Peterson Award winner is invited to showcase his/her winning song at the FMO conference, as part of the Songs From the Heart showcase.


Toronto, October 19, 2016 – Singer-songwriter Abigail Lapell is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s (OAC) Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, for her song “Jordan.” The award was presented on Sunday, October 23, 2016, at Folk Music Ontario’s annual conference.

About Abigail Lapell

Abigail is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist based in Toronto. She spent her formative years in Montreal, where she began writing, performing and collaborating with various bands and theatre groups.

Abigail’s debut solo record, Great Survivor, came out in 2011; her sophomore record, Hide Nor Hair, will be released in January 2017. Exploring themes of love and loss through the lens of geography and travel, it will feature “Jordan” as its lead single.

Abigail has toured across North America and Europe, sharing stages with artists such as First Aid Kit, tUnE-yArDs and Rae Spoon. She has appeared at many festivals, including North by Northeast, Pop Montreal and Sappy Fest.

Abigail has also toured using many unconventional modes of transportation. She has completed two tours entirely by bicycle (Tune Your Ride Tour), two by canoe (Fish Quill Canoe Tour), and one by train across Canada (as part of VIA Rail’s Artists on board Program).

The jury was unanimous in its choice, stating that “‘Jordan’ is a beautifully written song that evokes a strong sense of place.” Praising the song’s “unique yet comforting sound,” they applauded the “sophisticated relationship between its lyrics, music and emotional content.”

About the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award

  • The Colleen Peterson Songwriting Fund was established at the Ontario Arts Council in 2003 by Peterson’s sister, Shirley Richardson, and singer-songwriter Laura Bird.
  • The annual $1,000 award honours Peterson’s contribution to Canadian music by supporting and promoting the work of Ontario-resident emerging singer-songwriters in the roots, traditional, folk and country genres.
  • Nominations are received from Folk Music Ontario’s “Songs from the Heart” competition. The OAC assembles the jury that chooses the award recipient.
  • The 2016 jury consisted of Jimmy Breslin (Thunder Bay), ShoShona Kish (Barrie), and Suzie Vinnick (Wainfleet).
Harvey Slack of Ontario Arts Council presenting award to Abigail Lapell

Harvey Slack (Ontario Arts Council) and Abigail Lapell

Past Winners

Colleen Peterson Award

  • 2015: Graydon James – “Couldn’t Be Any Worse”
  • 2014: Ken Yates – “The One That Got Away”
  • 2013: Leila Goldberger – “Sisters”
  • 2012: Ariana Gillis – “Dream Street”
  • 2011: Alise Marlane – “L’aurore boréale”
  • 2010: Lynne Hanson – “Rest of My Days”
  • 2009: Kyrie Kristmanson – “Song X”
  • 2008: Chris MacLean – “Feet Be Still”
  • 2007: Brooke Miller – “Two Soldiers”
  • 2006: Andy Sheppard – “Until Next Time”
  • 2005: Lori Cullen and Brian Macmillan – “Away So Long”
  • 2004: David Gillis – “A Mouse’s Crumb”
  • 2003: Evalyn Parry – “The Stone and The Bumblebee”
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The Folk Music Ontario Taylor Mitchell Bursary

Taylor Mitchell

In 2010, in memory of her daughter, Canadian songwriter Taylor Mitchell, Emily Mitchell established The OCFF Taylor Mitchell Bursary for participants in the Folk Music Ontario Youth Performer program. Initially funded for five years (2010-2014 inclusive), the bursary has recently received additional funding, allowing it to be awarded through the 2019 conference. The renewed intention of the bursary is to provide a means for applicants whose circumstances might not otherwise permit them to attend to overcome any obstacles that might prevent them from attending.

One young performer is chosen to receive up to $500 towards costs associated with attending the conference and participating in the performer stream of the Folk Music Ontario youth program. Applicants wishing to be considered for the bursary must be nominated for the bursary by a teacher/community member/mentor, in light of the goals of the bursary program. All candidates chosen by jury to participate in the program are eligible for the bursary. The recipient is determined according to need by a group of musical mentors who knew and loved Taylor.

In 2013, the award’s name was changed to The Folk Music Ontario Taylor Mitchell Bursary.

20-year-old singer-songwriter John Muirhead of Norval, ON was the recipient of the 2016 Taylor Mitchell Bursary. John is pursuing his BA in Popular Music Studies at Western University, and feels that songwriting is a powerful medium of expression. He has been performing in various bands since he was 14, and began gigging as a solo act about a year ago. In the last year he has played more than 40 shows in various cities across Ontario. John’s debut EP, Yesterday’s Smile, was released in August 2016.


Past Recipients

  • 2015: Braden Phelan, Guelph
  • 2014: Benjamin Dakota Rogers, Brantford
  • 2013: Ben Turcotte, Port Elgin
  • 2012: Emily Kohne, Thunder Bay
  • 2011: Binaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon, Pic River
  • 2010: Maria Tullio, Port Hope

Attending the FMO Youth Mentorship Program far exceeded my expectations. I was extremely excited to learn I had been awarded the Taylor Mitchell Bursary. Financially it allowed me to attend the conference and take in all it has to offer. It was an honour to meet Emily Mitchell, Taylor’s mother. The connections we made during the FMO conference confirmed my desire to make music my lifelong passion!

Benjamin Dakota Rogers, 2014 Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient

I was so grateful to be last year’s recipient of the Taylor Mitchell Bursary. Being a university student and all, money is a bit tight and it was questionable weather or not I’d be able to attend had I not received the bursary. So again, a huge thanks goes to the Mitchell family for making it possible for me to experience such a truly awesome event.

Ben Turcotte, 2013 Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient

At Folk Music Ontario, young musicians are given the opportunity to take part in the Youth Program. One person is awarded the Taylor Mitchell Bursary, which goes towards conference costs such as registration, accommodation, and flights (for people like me who were coming from a distance). I was lucky enough to receive this bursary as a youth showcase artist in 2012. This gave me the opportunity to attend the conference, which I would not have been able to do otherwise. Being able to attend FMO gave my music the boost from pastime to career.

I am now in Australia, preparing for the beginning of my first out-of-country tour with my duo partner Murray Thiessen. Every time I feel success with my music career, I know that I couldn’t be where I am without the Youth Program and the Taylor Mitchell Bursary.

Emily Kohne, 2012 Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient

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