STEPHENVILLE, NL –
In just a few weeks, the wait will be over for those shortlisted on this year’s MusicNL Awards lineup.
Among those nominated in the 27 categories were several College of the North Atlantic (CNA) alumni, including:
- The Kubasonics, which features Music: Performance, Business and Technology graduate Jacob Cherwick, who is going head to head with Quote the Raven, featuring Sound Recording & Production alumni Jordan Coaker, for Yamaha Group of the Year;
- Dan George, Music: Performance, Business and Technology graduate, for Side Musician of the Year; and,
- Jerry Stamp, Graphic Design graduate, for Graphic Artist of the Year.
Natasha Blackwood, a graduate of CNA’s Recording Arts Program in 2005, received the highest number of nods by the organization that represents many artists and music in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Blackwood, who is also a member of the band Eastern Owl, is in the running for several awards – either on her own or as part of her group:
- Eastern Owl Folk/Roots Artist of the Year, First Light Indigenous Artist/Group of the Year, and Ron Hynes SOCAN Songwriter of the Year (Joanna Barker and Blackwood – Eastern Owl - The Drum); and,
- Blackwood Side Musician of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.
Brenda Tobin, CNA’s Dean of Academics, Applied Arts & Tourism, said she was thrilled to hear the news about the nominations.
‘It is fantastic to see our CNA Applied Arts graduates of our Music, Sound Recording & Production and Graphic Design programs being nominated for so many MusicNL awards this year,” she noted. “Being nominated for these distinguished awards speaks volumes of the hard work and outstanding contributions of these talented artists to the music industry of our province. To our alumni who have been nominated, we are so proud of your accomplishments and extend congratulations as well as best wishes for continued success in your exciting career journeys.”
When asked how it felt to have so many nominations, Blackwood, a Stephenville native, said it is an honour and surreal at the same time.
“it’s very surprising and humbling,” said Blackwood. “I'm especially proud of the nominations for my band, Eastern Owl, because we've been working so hard at this project for nearly eight years, and it's a true collective of strong women, building something special together. It means a lot to us to continue to tell these important stories through song, and to have a wider audience eager to listen.”
Blackwood says her time at CNA was where she met some of her best life-long friends. In fact, she and two of her classmates, Ryan Kennedy and Chris Donnelly, are currently recording an album.
“As a young adult, it was a really formative time,” she recalled. “I had the time to figure out what path I wanted to take in the industry, set goals for myself, and move forward in a way that made sense for me. I studied to be a sound engineer at CNA, and that helped me get my job as a sound technician job at the music school at StFX. (in Nova Scotia).”
She studied Jazz Saxophone at St. Francis Xavier University (2008), and then Music Education at Memorial University (2011).
“I met some amazing musicians at X, saw too many incredible shows to count, and got my feet wet with recording. I really think a big part of my success there had to do with studying to be a sound technician first. It's such a valuable skill for any musician to have, and it's helped me along every stage of my career."
Blackwood, who has never received a MusicNL nomination before, said making a career in the music industry is hard and busy work.
“Sometimes big ideas don't pan out like you'd hoped; however, we are really lucky to live in a place that is so rich in musical culture,” she added. “You can't throw a rock without hitting genuine talent. There is such a wealth of art being created, and incredible people to work with. The best part of work is definitely the incredible artists, technicians, and industry professionals that I get to call my colleagues and friends.”
Blackwood also knows that the endless support from family, friends, bandmates, colleagues, and “an amazing partner,” has helped her complete big projects and stay on task.
“Releasing Qama'si, our sophomore album that I am just so proud of, with Eastern Owl … I think we really found our voice with that record, and I'm really excited to celebrate it with the greater community at MusicNL week.”
College of the North Atlantic