The Folk Music Ontario Awards are presented annually at the Folk Music Ontario Conference each fall. Award winners share their music at the Awards Showcase and are recognized and presented with their awards at the Awards Brunch. Submissions open each year in the spring.
There are five awards and one bursary:
- Stingray Rising Star Award (sponsored by Stingray Music)
- FMO Songs From the Heart Award
- Colleen Peterson Award (presented by Ontario Arts Council)
- Recording Artist of the Year (sponsored by Recording Artists’ Collecting Society)
- Estelle Klein Award
- Taylor Mitchell Bursary
Submission period: April 18, 2017 to May 31, 2017
Online submissions are provided through a partnership with Marcato Digital.
Submissions for the Stingray Rising Star Award and the FMO Songs From the Heart Award are $20 per song for members and $40 per song for non-members (become a member here). Applicants are encouraged to submit their song to as many awards as they are eligible for. Submit an additional application form and fee for each additional song.
Submission fees are non-refundable and help to cover application processing.
The FMO Awards jury oversees the selection of winners in both the Stingray Rising Star Award and the FMO Songs from the Heart Awards. The jury is composed of three or more industry professionals who are appointed by FMO staff. They also select up to fifteen of the most highly ranked songs, that meet the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) criteria, to be passed on to the OAC for consideration for the Colleen Peterson Award. The OAC assembles a jury of three Ontarians with expertise in roots, traditional, folk, and/or country music. The OAC does not accept submissions for this award directly.
FMO makes every effort to keep the judging process fair for the songwriting awards (Stingray Rising Star, FMO Songs from the Heart, Colleen Peterson) by requesting that lyrics and songs are submitted with no names or notes that would identify the composer.
There is a separate jury for the Recording Artist of the Year (sponsored by Recording Artists’ Collecting Society) award, which is composed of industry professionals and a representative from the sponsor, Recording Artists’ Collecting Society.
The Estelle Klein Award winner is determined through a nomination and member vote process. FMO members are encouraged to submit nominations for worthy candidates during the awards submission period. A committee comprised of former winners and current board members will select up to five nominations to be presented to the membership for a vote.
The Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient is determined by a group of musical mentors who knew and loved Taylor.
Stingray Rising Star Award
The Stingray Rising Star Award is generously sponsored by Stingray Music and celebrates emerging Canadian songwriters. One English and one French winner will each receive $1000 plus a registration for that year’s Folk Music Ontario conference.
NEW FOR 2017: This award is now open to applicants nationwide!
- Open to Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada residing in Canada
- Submission must have both original lyrics and music
- Must be an emerging artist, duo, or group as defined by the following:
- Not previously nominated for any major (national or international) awards
- Must have a body of past recorded work comprising 1 to 3 officially released independent recordings (album or EP) commercially available through iTunes, Amazon or similar distribution services
- Must not have previously been the recipient of a STINGRAY RISING STAR award
- Must plan to continue recording in the near future
- Must be a professional artist (someone who has developed skills through training and/or practice and who is recognized as such by artists working in the same artistic tradition and has a history of public presentation or publication)
- Preference is given to broadcast quality recordings
Songs From the Heart Award
The FMO Songs From the Heart Award celebrates songwriters in six categories and recognizes winners with a $100 FMO credit that can be used to cover membership fees, conference registrations, advertising with FMO, etc.
The six categories are:
- Folk Music from Around the World
- Songs must have original lyrics – if using music that is written by someone else, you must have permission to use it or show that it’s public domain
- Songs submitted to the instrumental category must have original music
- A song can only be submitted to a single category, however multiple songs could be submitted to the same category
- Songs recorded by solo artists, duos, or groups are eligible but the award is presented to the songwriter
- Songs should be well presented but elaborate production is not essential
- Songs may be presented in any language but English translations to the lyrics must be provided
- Both instrumental and vocal music from all folk genres and traditions are eligible
- Must be a professional artist (someone who has developed skills through training and/or practice and who is recognized as such by artists working in the same artistic tradition, and has a history of public presentation or publication)
- Must have resided in Ontario or the National Capital Region (see map) for at least 12 months prior to application.
- Must be Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
- Winners from the previous two years are not eligible
Colleen Peterson Award
The Colleen Peterson Award was established at the Ontario Arts Council in 2003 to celebrate the work of an emerging professional singer-songwriter of any age in honour of Colleen Peterson’s contribution to Canadian folk and country music.
The award is given to an emerging singer/songwriter in the genres of roots, traditional, folk and country music. The winner receives $1000 plus a registration for that year’s Folk Music Ontario conference.
- Must be an emerging artist of any age but with a maximum of 10 years’ experience as a professional musician.
- Must be a professional artist (someone who has developed skills through training and/or practice, and is recognized as such by artists working in the same artistic tradition, and has a history of public presentation or publication, and seeks payment for their work and actively practises their art, with short breaks in artistic work history allowed).
- Must have resided continuously in Ontario for at least one year prior to December 31 of the previous year.
- Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
- Must be an individual singer-songwriter; co-writes by collectives or ensembles are NOT eligible for submission.
- Submission must have original music and lyrics.
- Must NOT be a previous winner of the award.
- Must also submit song to Stingray Rising Star and/or FMO Songs From The Heart awards.
ABOUT COLLEEN PETERSON
Colleen 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.
Recording Artist of the Year
The Recording Artist of the Year was established in 2017 and is generously sponsored by Recording Artists’ Collecting Society (RACS). This award recognizes the overall artistic performance of a recording artist in the Folk/Roots/Blues genre. The winner will receive $1000 and a registration for that year’s Folk Music Ontario conference.
- Open to solo, duo, or group acts on a recording
- Both instrumental and vocal recordings are eligible
- Must submit up to two tracks that best represent their range and performance capability
- Recording(s) must have been released in previous calendar year (i.e., January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016 for the 2017 award). Proof of release is required with a link to webpage that has recording available to the public. (i.e. link to Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby)
- Recording must be in folk/roots/blues genre
- Preference will be given to artists with original material
- Artist must be Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada and must have resided in Canada for at least 12 months prior to application – If act has multiple members, at least 50% must meet this criteria
Estelle Klein Award
The Estelle Klein Award 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.
Winners are recognized with a registration for that year’s Folk Music Ontario conference for themselves and a partner as well as a lifetime FMO membership. The winner is also featured in the Conference Program edition of Folk Prints magazine, at an interview at the FMO Awards brunch, and in a career retrospective video.
- Any FMO member may submit a nomination
- Nominee must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident living in Ontario or the National Capital Region (see map)
- Nominator Statement – why you feel this individual or group should be considered (500 words max)
- Bio of achievements (1000 words max)
- Links to support material – press, recordings, etc. (2 max)
- Website link
- Nominee contact info
Taylor Mitchell Bursary
The Taylor Mitchell Bursary was established in 2010 by Emily Mitchell, in memory of her daughter, Canadian songwriter Taylor Mitchell. Initially funded for five years (2010-2014), the bursary received additional funding, allowing it to be awarded through the 2019 conference. The bursary is to support one participant in the Performer Stream of the Youth Program who might otherwise be prevented from taking part.
The bursary recipient receives up to $500 towards costs associated with attending the FMO conference and participating in the Performer Stream of the Youth Performer Program.
- Must be nominated for the bursary by a teacher/community member/mentor, in light of the goals of the bursary program.
- Must be selected as a participant of the Performer Stream of the FMO Youth Program. Participants will be given the option to apply for the bursary in their Youth Program application (Apply here).