Toronto Blues Society | » 24th Maple Blues Awards: Winners Announced!

24th Maple Blues Awards: Winners Announced!



Entertainer of the Year: Dawn Tyler Watson

Electric Act of the Year: Jack de Keyzer

Acoustic Act of the Year: Matt Andersen

Male Vocalist of the Year: Matt Andersen

Female Vocalist of the Year: Angel Forrest

New Artist of the Year: Smoke Wagon Blues Band 

Recording/Producer of the Year: Smoke Wagon Blues Band – Ballad of Albert Johnson / Producer: Steve Sherman

B.B. King International Artist of the Year: Ghost Town Blues Band

Songwriter of the Year: Colin Linden

Blues with a Feeling Award (Lifetime Achievement Award): *Tie* Ken Whiteley and Joe Murphy

Guitarist of the Year: Garrett Mason

Harmonica of the Year: Steve Marriner

Piano/Keys of the Year: Jesse O’Brien

Horn Player of the Year*Tie* Mark LeClerc and Mat “Moose” Mousseau

Drummer of the Year: Gary Craig

Bassist of the Year: John Dymond

John Valenteyn Blues Booster of the Year: Cindy McLeod


New: Watch All the Thank-You Speeches!

A special bonus video has been released containing all winners’ thank-you extravaganza! Click above to start watching!

 Watch All 4 Segments Again!

Check Out Our Digital Program!


Blues Zooms!

Maple Blues Awards Pre-Toast and After Party gatherings took place on Zoom before & after each segment to celebrate the winners, to catch up with the community, & to connect our bluesy souls in a positive way!

Performers & Hosts Announced for the Virtual 24th Maple Blues Awards: Toronto Blues Society’s annual national awards show Maple Blues Awards is going virtual on its next edition from 4 different cities! A bundle of awards will be announced next to some exciting performances from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver each Monday of February! The 24th Annual Maple Blues Awards will be streamed at 8pm (EST) via Facebook and TBS YouTube channel.

Read the full announcement here.

Facebook event pageClick here for the YouTube channel.



The Toronto Blues Society board of directors is pleased to announce Calgary’s Cindy McLeod as the winner of the newly renamed John Valenteyn Blues Booster of the Year award, a very special Maple Blues Award honouring outstanding contribution to the Canadian blues music industry. The esteemed award has been renamed in honour of the late John Valenteyn, a co-founder of the Toronto Blues Society, long-time radio DJ, and dedicated volunteer. Read the full press release here.




Maple Blues Awards - Koerner Hall - January 15th, 2018The Maple Blues Awards is Canada’s national blues awards program. Its goal is to promote blues music across Canada, and to recognize outstanding achievement in the field. Winners in all categories (excluding the instrumental categories*) are decided by blues fans across Canada. Voting occurs online each November.

Nominating Panel & Steering Committee.  The nominees are selected by a distinguished panel of approximately 50 blues experts who form the MBA Nominating Panel. Co-chaired by the steering committee consisting of Terry Parsons, Yanick Theriault, and Brant Zwicker, the panel includes radio hosts, journalists, and festival organizers regionally distributed across Canada. Members of the Nominating Panel are not eligible for any of the awards.

*Instrumental Categories.  Winners in the guitar, harmonica, piano/keyboards, horn, drum, and bass categories are not open for public vote. Instrumental or “craft” categories are determined by a panel of experts drawn from the nominating panel.

The awards program is proudly organized by the Toronto Blues Society. 


Toronto Blues Society has been receiving valuable input from the members of the Canadian blues community regarding the Maple Blues Awards procedures and voting, and as such, have been developing new policies and protocol to ensure the Maple Blues Award system is responsive and evolving, thanks to the feedback gathered from across Canada. Please note the following changes:

  • Songwriter Of The Year Category: Changes to this category have been made to ensure that the nominated artist(s) has contributed 50% or more towards the song writing on the recent album to be eligible in this category.
  • Social Media Advertising Banned: While getting nominated for a Maple Blues Award is a wonderful achievement and excitement, not all of the nominees are regular users of social media or some may not have the budgets to execute a successful advertising campaign to solicit votes. In the pursuit of fairness for all of the nominees and transparency, PAID social media advertising by the MBA nominees is banned during the public voting period. Regular “thank-you” posts by the nominees as well as reminders to fans for the voting deadline on social media are all still good and will also help us promote the Maple Blues Awards more! Our aim is to prevent manipulation on public voting through sponsored posts (specifically asking for votes) which may cause an inequity as we realize not all the artists may have the same budget.


There is no application process for the Maple Blues Awards. Nominations are drawn from the expertise of the MBA Nominating Panel. Members of the nominating panel are required to be familiar with Canadian blues artist activity and CD releases. Artists are encouraged to service new releases to all blues radio DJs, journalists and industry professionals across Canada to increase their national profile. The list of the Panel members can be found on our website (bottom of this page) with a link to their organizations.

Recording/Producer Of The Year. Nominated recordings in this category must be released during the eligibility period: September 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020.

New Artist Or Group Of The Year. Group or individual, new to the national blues scene, who has made considerable advances artistically and/or commercially over the previous year. The nominee should be performing under its/his/her name on a regular basis and must not have been nominated in any Maple Blues Awards category previously. The award recognizes the group or individual.


On Monday, February 4th 2020, the gala evening for the 23rd Maple Blues Awards at Koerner Hall celebrated artists from coast-to-coast. The awards show not only featured heart-warming moments and great speeches from the winners, but the audience was treated to exciting performances from Big Dave McLean, Matchedash Parish, Miss Emily, Dawn Tyler Watson, Michael Jerome Browne, and the evening’s hostess Raha Javanfar (Bad Luck Woman) with special guests, students from The Regent Park School of Music, all backed by the awards house band The Maple Blues Band.

Click here to access the archive and read more details about the night.

Performances from the night and the show are available at TBS Youtube channel.

Photo Gallery

*Photo credits: Greg King


The Nominating Panel consists of industry professionals from across Canada who volunteer their time to participate.

Click here to download the communication sheet for the Panel.

Vince Almond CFBX Kamloops BC
Brant Zwicker* At the Crossroads (syndicated) Kamloops BC
Al Forrie Hornby Island Blues Society Hornby Island BC
Grant Payne Nanaimo Blues Society Nanaimo BC
Rod Dranfield White Rock Blues Society Surrey BC
Brent Morrison The Rockin’ Blues Show (CJSF | CJMP) Vancouver BC
Paul Norton CFRO | CiTR Vancouver BC
Ron Simmonds CFRO Vancouver BC
Cindy McLeod Calgary Blues Music Association | The Blues Witness (CJSW) Calgary AB
Cam Hayden The Friday Night Blues Party (CKUA) Edmonton AB
Holger Petersen Stony Plain Records Edmonton AB
Chris Martin Saturday Night Blues (CBC) Edmonton AB
Peter North Dead Ends & Detours (CKUA) Edmonton AB
Gord MacAulay Canadian Blues Alliance Saskatoon SK
Al Wood Saskatoon Blues Society Saskatoon SK
Paul Panchezak Breakfast of Champions (CFMU) Hamilton ON
Ken Wallis Blues Blast (The HAWK) Hamilton ON
Claude Cloutier Kitchener Blues Festival Kitchener ON
Bruce Hall Grand River Blues Society Kitchener ON
Larry Kurtz Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival Orangeville ON
Liz Sykes Ottawa Blues Society Ottawa ON
Deborah Cartmer CFBU St. Catharines ON
Julie Hill Blue Remedy (Radio Regent | Blues and Roots Radio) Toronto ON
Eric Thom Freelance Music Journalist Toronto ON
Stevie Connor Blues and Roots Radio Mississauga ON
Andrew Galloway Electro-Fi Records Toronto ON
Lori Murray Music By The Bay Uxbridge ON
Nick Harding Photographer Wasaga Beach ON
Lee Evans Bluewater Blues Show, 91.3 FM Hanover ON
Bill King Beaches Jazz Festival, CIUT FM, FYI Music, Photographer Toronto ON
John Emms Freelance Music Writer Timmins ON
Rick Clarke Bruce County Blues Society Kincardine ON
Kris Kane Southside Shuffle Festival Mississauga ON
Jan MacDonald Downtown Kingston Limestone City Blues Festival Kingston ON
Diane Keye-Kohoko The Afternoon Drive Time, CKRZ 100.3 FM Ohsweken ON
Yannick Lambert Donnacona Blues Festival Donnacona QC
Debra Thornington Ottawa Blues Society | Dawg’On Blues (DAWG) Gatineau QC
Alexandre Petit Viree Blues Boreale Hull QC
John Detcheverry Cha Cha In Blue (CKUT) Montreal QC
Daisy Hanna Montreal Blues Society Montreal QC
Phil Brisse Montreal Blues Society Montreal QC
René Moisan Bros Inc. Montreal QC
Greg Torrington The Blues (Stingray Music) Montreal QC
David Bush Royal Blues with Dr. Dave, K103.7 Kahnawake QC
Dave Brennan Ottawa Blues Society Gatineau QC
David McCabe Montreal Blues Society St.-Urbain Premier QC
Louis Brunet CKMN Rimouski QC
Conrad Mead 95.7 The Wolf Fredericton NB
Yanick Theriault Cigare & Whiskey (CFBO) Grand Moncton NB
Sandy MacDonald Freelance Music Journalist Halifax NS
Bruce Morel Music Marketing International Inc. Dartmouth NS
Cathy Prothro East Coast Blues Society Dartmouth NS
Gene Bellows Blues in the Night (VOBB) Bonne Bay NL
Terry Parsons* Blind Lemon Radio (CHMR) St. John’s NL

*The panel is led by a steering committee consisting of Brant Zwicker, Yanick Theriault and Terry Parsons.

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TBS logo and WBR artwork by Barbara Klunder

The Toronto Blues Society acknowledges the annual support of the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and project support from FACTOR< and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s Private Broadcasters, The Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, SOCAN, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.