Northern artists scoop up trophies at Western Canadian Music Awards

A Yellowknife composer and a Nunavut band had reason to celebrate this weekend. Carmen Braden of Yellowknife and Nunavut's The Jerry Cans both won awards at the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards.

Carmen Braden of Yellowknife and Nunavut's The Jerry Cans both won awards

Yellowknife musician and composer Carmen Braden. The artist tied for the title of Classical Composer of the Year in the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards. (Hannah Eden)

A Yellowknife composer and a popular Nunavut band have reason to celebrate after this past weekend.

The Jerry Cans won Rock Artist of the Year and Carmen Braden was named Classical Composer of the Year at the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards. Braden tied with Stephen Chatman of British Columbia. 

"It's such an honour," she said.

It's the second year in a row Braden won the award — in 2019 she took home the same honour against Allan Gordon Bell and Laurie Radford, both of whom taught her at the University of Calgary when she was pursuing her master's degree.

She describes her work as music that explores and touches on the natural world and increasingly, humans' place in it.

"There's influences from my… passion for jazz, my love of melody, which is also part of my singer-songwriter life," she said.

Braden says whether she has a musical failure or success — she tries not to repeat it.

Among the pieces was one influenced by the sprouting of a seed, which Braden says she composed while she was pregnant.

"I was looking at the actual picture ... of a seed and how it has this outer shell and this sort of inner core so I literally translated that onto a musical staff," Braden said.

"That musically led me to interesting things. So it was a combination, there, of concept and visuals that now has a sonic life."

The Jerry Cans perform at the Juno Awards in Vancouver in March 2018. The group was titled Rock Artist of the Year at the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The Jerry Cans also celebrate win

The awards are part of the BreakOut West 2020 Home Edition music festival. The event this year was prerecorded, according to Trevor Sinclair, president of Music NWT. He presented Braden with the award outside her home over the weekend on behalf of the festival.

Braden had to literally catch her award when it was doled out to maintain physical distancing, she said. 

"Wish we could all be in Winnipeg to party hard like classical artists do, but I'll raise a glass from Yellowknife," Braden said in a Facebook post over the weekend.

Nunavut's The Jerry Cans are also celebrating their win — the group was named Rock Artist of the Year. The band, which is known for its eclectic music, including songs in Inuktitut and that weave in throat-singing, showed their excitement over the win for their new album.

"Thank you to everyone who has been rocking out to Echoes for the past six months," the group wrote in a Facebook post. 

"Our lil baby just got us our first ever award as a band."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.