2021 Estelle Klein Award Nominees: Voting Now Open!

It’s time to vote for the 2021 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.

ONLY FMO MEMBERS are able to vote for the award recipient. Each member in good standing will be receiving a unique ballot and link via email.

There are 8 candidates for the 2021 Estelle Klein Award. The candidates are listed below in alphabetical order. For those who can vote, Please make your selection before Wednesday, September 15, 2021!

For more information, or if you haven’t received your email link, please contact Joel at office@folkmusicontario.ca.

Ian Bell

Ian Bell has performed across Canada and internationally since the late 1970s, both on his own and with a number of different ensembles including Muddy York, the Bilge Rats, Friends of Fiddler’s Green, Enoch Kent, Allison Lupton, Lederman/Bell and others. He has appeared at festivals (Winnipeg, Mariposa, Edmonton, Ottawa, Yellowknife, Owen Sound, Lunenberg, Montmagny, and others), in concerts and for dances in venues ranging from The Lincoln Center to the finest Ontario barns.

Ian performs material from a large repertoire that includes both Canadian traditional music and his own songs and instrumental compositions. Ian’s original songs have been performed and recorded by: Anne Lederman, Ian Robb, Bobby Watt, Allison Lupton, Lee Murdock, The Lucky Sisters and others. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist (guitar, button accordion, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, pipes), Ian has made 8 CDs under his own name (2 nominated for CFMAs) and appears on dozens of recordings as sideman. He has organized festivals (Mariposa in 1985, Port Dover), was part of Expo ’86 (with Wade Hemsworth and Muddy York), been “Folk Artist in Residence” at Joseph Schneider Haus Museum (Kitchener, Ontario. 1993), co-wrote/directed five CBC Vinyl Café national concerts, was a regular contributor for seven years to Fresh Air as well as appearing on many other programs: Ideas, Gabereau, Crossroads, This Morning, Radio Noon and Peter Gzowski’s Morningside. He has been part of the Roots of American Music Festival (Lincoln Centre, NYC) performed at the Mystic Seaport Museum and in Viljandi, Estonia. Ian continues to perform and organize events, contributing his unique storytelling voice to Canadian music.

Diana Braithwaite

Diana Braithwaite has been instrumental in keeping the blues alive on a national and international level, and as the worlds’ music press has testified, her name is synonymous with quality and authenticity. Dubbed a “national treasure” by Bluz FM on Jazz FM radio host Danny Marks, Diana Braithwaite is a descendant of the Wellington County pioneers in Canada. With roots in Florida, Diana’s ancestors on her mother’s side, escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad and lived for four generations in Wellington County, the first African-Canadian pioneer settlement in Ontario.

Recognized for her authentic blues performances, Diana was chosen by Sarah McLachlan to open Lilith Fair at the Molson Amphitheatre before an audience of 18,000. Appearances at shows in Massey Hall in North America, concert halls and festivals in the U.K. and Europe led to her reputation as a world class blues singer.

After a lengthy successful music career and recording deal with Festival Records, in 2005, Braithwaite teamed up with multi-instrumentalist producer, Chris Whiteley to record the CD, MORNING SUN, on the Electro-Fi Recording label. The acclaimed CD garnered rave reviews, extensive air play, and led to multiple Canadian MAPLE BLUES AWARD nominations, including Album of the year, and Acoustic Act of the year. The duo’s second album, also recorded for the Electro-Fi label, NIGHT BIRD BLUES was extremely well received, with great reviews and airplay internationally. It led to them being awarded 3 MAPLE BLUES AWARDS in January 2010, including being recognized as SONGWRITERS OF THE YEAR.

Rodney Brown

The Estelle Klein Award is presented to those who have made significant contributions to Ontario folk music. Often, it goes to someone who has achieved international success. But what of those individuals who eschewed “folk stardom” in order to build folk music community in over-looked regions of the province, without whom we could not claim to have a true Ontario-wide scene?

That, friends, is Rodney Brown.

Though he was an esteemed member of the first wave of nationally-touring singer-songwriters that also included Stan Rogers, Murray McLauchlan and Bruce Cockburn, Rodney ultimately made it his mission to bring folk music to his home of northwestern Ontario.

He has performed for and collaborated with children in numerous remote First Nations, created music with adults with developmental disabilities, participated in educational projects with the Fort William Historical Park, composed for six touring theatre productions and performed and toured with the Thunder Bay Symphony – while also releasing 11 albums, composing for TVO and working as a children’s entertainer.

He served 43 years on the Local 591 executive and coordinated a labour choir for the Thunder Bay and District Labour Council. He’s been a regular performer at social justice rallies, and he helped organize the local Summer Solstice Festival in the late 70s.

Rodney received a 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and a 1992 Canada 125 medal for his significant contributions to northern Ontario culture. Perhaps most tellingly though, in northwestern Ontario, the words “folk” and “Rodney Brown” are virtually synonymous.

Willie Dunn (1941-2013)

A Mohawk chief once called him Roha’tiio—which means “his voice is beautiful.” Willie Dunn was a Canadian filmmaker, folk musician, playwright and politician. Born in Montreal, he was of mixed Mi’kmaq and Scottish/Irish background.

Dunn left the Canadian army with a UN Medal and quickly established himself on the sixties folk scene as a singer-songwriter, drawing from his Mi’kmaq/Scottish heritage to craft protest songs about the Indigenous experience.

In 1968, as a member of the Indian Film Crew, he directed The Ballad of Crowfoot, the first NFB film to be directed by an Indigenous filmmaker. A powerful homage to the Blackfoot/Siksiká leader featuring Dunn’s own ballad, it is considered Canada’s first music video. The film received several awards including a Gold Hugo for best short film at the 1969 Chicago International Film Festival.

Dunn released several full-length albums of recorded music and films and was also involved in federal politics as the NDP candidate for Ottawa-Vanier in 1993.

Dunn died in 2013 and is remembered as a trailblazing artist, activist and community leader.

“I’m a topical folksinger, as opposed to being a Native artist. However, the topic of being an Indian became so prevalent in my music that I became known as an Indian folksinger”.

Eve Goldberg

Eve Goldberg was steeped in the folk scene from an early age, and became a folk musician herself with her first CD in 1998. Her instrumental “Watermelon Sorbet” was the opening theme for CBC’s “Richardson’s Roundup.” She supported herself by working at Borealis Records as their first office manager.

She released two more solo albums, and two recordings with Gathering Sparks. Her song “Old Tin Cup” was published in the Rise Again songbook, a sequel to Rise Up Singing. Eve has been a finalist for the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, nominated for the CFMA for Vocal Group of the Year in 2014 (with Gathering Sparks), and winner of FMO’s “Songs From the Heart” (with Gathering Sparks).

Eve is passionate about community music, teaching at colleges, and camps such as the Woods Music & Dance Camp, Haliburton School of the Arts, Haliburton Winter Folk Camp, Midwest Uke & Harmonica Camp, and Women’s Music Weekend.

She helped found the Common Thread Community Chorus (Toronto) and served on its Board. She consulted in the founding of the Haliburton Folk Camp. She served on the board of The Woods Music Camp, helping organize and run their annual event.

Eve helped found the non-profit organization ArtsCan Circle. Her song “Streets of Burma” was used by Amnesty International Canada as part of a 2007 campaign. She has served on the board of OCFF/FMO and Local 1000 of the AFM. With Local 1000, she served as Canadian vice president for three years and president for three years.

Graham Lindsey

During the pandemic Graham helped bring countless performances online, volunteering much of his time, and contributing to a vibrant folk community. As a virtual event producer, he produced the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the first national arts event to go virtual in 2020, only three weeks after the pandemic was declared, and then again in 2021 with an expanded virtual program.

As technical producer for Home Routes’ online programming, he helped develop the Zoom-based house concerts key to their online programming, now and post-pandemic. He produced the live Ottawa Grassroots Festival, streamed festivals like Summerfolk, and numerous concerts by Ontario artists (including on-site production for James Keelaghan, David Francey, Skinnamarink!, and Bram Morrison). Graham is also a co-founder of the in-person Upper Canada Folk Festival (est. 2020).

Currently Co-President of the CFMAs (board member 2013-present), he participated in the FMO-CFMA-FMC working group (2019) to optimize the organizations’ operations. He develops websites for organizations (FMO, CFMA, Borealis, Hugh’s Room, Fogarty’s Cove Music, etc.) and numerous artists, edited the Estelle Klein Award recipient videos since 2016, and programmed the educational component at Almonte Celtfest (2013-present).

As a composer and performer, Graham’s first solo album was nominated for Solo Instrumental Artist at the first virtual CFMAs, and his remotely-produced recording (The Next Best Thing, 2020) was released to critical acclaim. With performances in Canada and Sweden, several of his compositions are in regular rotation on the Peace Tower Carillon on Parliament Hill.

Paul Loewenberg

Paul Loewenberg has lived in Sudbury Ontario since 1989 and holds a Bachelors degree in sociology from Laurentian University. He became involved with Northern Lights Festival boréal in 2019, and served as Artistic Director for an impressive 17 years.

He is the longstanding booker of the Townehouse Tavern and books a multitude of performers of many styles. He is also a well-established musician and has played in numerous bands and has appeared on numerous recordings. These endeavours have enabled him to become immersed in Canada’s contemporary underground music culture.

Paul has served two terms on the board of Folk Music Ontario (FMO) and is a regular panelist/moderator at the annual FMO conference. He is a past member of the Downtown Sudbury Marketing Committee and a member of the Committee for the Development of Arts and Culture for the City of Greater Sudbury.

He frequently serves as a juror for FACTOR committees and a contributor for projects on CBC Radio. He is a regularly invited to City meetings concerning issues such as the redevelopment of the Bell Park Amphitheatre and the development of a proposed Multi-Use Arts Facility. He has participated in Strategic Planning for the Sudbury Arts and Culture Advisory Panel and FMO.

Paul is a tireless advocate for community, arts, culture and roots music – demonstrating by his candidacy for MPP in 2 provincial elections. Paul also founded a new festival: The Elgin St. Craft Beer Fest. – celebrating craft beer and live music of many kinds.

Chris White

With Nova Scotian roots that combine Black, White and Indigenous heritage, Chris White was born into a musical family and developed skills as a singer, guitarist, songwriter and performer. Growing up, he performed in a vocal quartet with his siblings and sang in a choir led by his father, Bill White, an accomplished musician and choral director. Chris’ aunt, Portia White, was a classical singer of “national historic significance”, and his uncle, Lorne White, performed on CBC’s “Singalong Jubilee” program throughout its 13-year national television run.

Chris writes and performs songs that are sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, always engaging. He has released three albums of original songs – “I’m a Poet… and I’m Aware of It”, “Inner Voice”, and “Music All Around”.

Chris co-founded the Ottawa Folk Festival in 1993 and served as Artistic Director for 16 years. In that role, he created numerous opportunities for attendees to become actively involved with music through participatory choirs, ukulele-building workshops and musical instrument “petting zoos”. He also worked with the Spirit of Rasputin’s Arts Society and Writer’s Bloc to create annual events such as “Musical Friends”, “Gil’s Hootenanny” and “The Great Canadian Song-Along”.

Chris produces and hosts two weekly music programs on CKCU FM: “Canadian Spaces”, Canada’s longest-running folk music radio show, and “Special Blend”.

Chris is a founding board member of Home Routes, an organization that presents concerts across Canada.

Chris received the Helen Verger Award in 2012 for “significant, sustained contributions to Canadian folk music”.