Country Music Week has its big finish tonight in Saskatoon as the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA)’s annual awards ceremony takes place at SaskTel Centre.
The ceremony will feature performances from several nominees and give out eight artist awards and caps a jam-packed week of country-themed events in the city.
On Saturday, fans lined up at Prairieland Park for a chance to take a photo with one of their favourite artists as nominees took to a stage and performed several songs for free.
Superfan Brandy Richardson of Kindersley, Sask., has attended 10 CCMA shows and was at Saturday’s pre-show.
Her mother gave her a custom guitar to collect autographs.
Also in the crowd were Anthony McEwen and Melissa Wasden. They know exactly who they’ll be cheering on from the floor at SaskTel Centre.
Dallas Smith’s song Autograph — an ode to getting engaged and a nominee Sunday night in the single of the year category — struck a special chord with the newly-hitched Saskatoon couple.
“As soon as we heard it, we were like, ‘This needs to be in our wedding,'” said McEwen. “Whether it’s our first dance…”
“Or walking down the aisle,” finished Wasden. “Anything. It’s gotta be in there for sure.”
Smith says the song is having the effect he intended.
“This song meant more than just an enjoyable song to listen to,” he told CBC News Saturday. “I was hoping that it would have a lot of meaning to people and be used in moments like that in their lives, and to have a song that will live like that beyond its radio life.”
Show starts at 5 p.m.
One of Smith’s five competitors in the male artist of the year category, Chad Brownlee, engaged in some gentle ribbing against Smith Saturday. The two artists are also going head to head for the Fans’ Choice Award.
“Dallas is a good buddy of mine. I wish him nothing but success this weekend,” said Brownlee, his face a master class in deadpan. “Except for the categories that I’m in. I hope he loses terribly.”
Saskatchewan’s very own country crooner, Jess Moskaluke, is up for several awards, too, including female artist of the year and single of the year (for the track Take Me Home.)
“This year would be different for several reasons,” Moskaluke of potentially winning the artist of the year prize again. “First of all, being at home in Saskatchewan. Secondly, it’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow, so I feel like that I would be a pretty awesome birthday present.”
She added the level of competition in her categories is “the highest it’s ever been.”
“The females in this country are continually getting stronger and better and multiplying in numbers. That’s only good for our whole industry. I’m proud and honoured to be part of that group.”
Tune in to the awards show tonight on CBC Television starting at 5 p.m. CST.