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About Maple Blues Awards


25th Annual Maple Blues Awards

Monday June 20th, 2022   7pm

Koerner Hall
273 Bloor St W, Toronto
Tickets start at $35



Koerner Hall Hosts 25th Annual Edition with Sue Foley, Crystal Shawanda, Kat Danser, Colin Linden, and Bobby Dean Blackburn

Toronto Blues Society is announcing a stellar line-up of blues artists from across Canada as the 25th Maple Blues Awards return to Koerner Hall in Toronto 

Hosted by Ottawa’s Angelique Francis, Canada’s biggest night in blues music will feature performances from five Maple Blues Award nominees including Bobby Dean Blackburn, who is nominated for the Blues With A Feeling (Lifetime Achievement) award, multiple nominee Sue Foley, who is up for Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year, and Guitarist of the Year. Also set to grace the stage are Female Vocalist of the Year nominee Crystal Shawanda, Songwriter of the Year nominee Kat Danser, and Colin Linden, who is nominated for Recording/Producer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.

These incredible blues artists will be supported by the award gala’s house band, The Maple Blues Band, who have been a cornerstone of the annual Maple Blues Awards Ceremony since 1999. The Maple Blues Band features a who’s who of musicians including the ceremony’s musical director and bandleader Gary Kendall on bass, Teddy Leonard on lead guitar, Al Lerman on harmonica & acoustic guitar, Howard Moore on trumpet, Jim Casson on drums, Lance Anderson on piano & organ, Alison Young on tenor saxophone, Mei Kelly on trombone. At the 25th annual Maple Blues Awards, The Maple Blues Band will debut a mentorship program by adding a third-year Humber College music student to the group. Roshane Wright, from Kingston, Jamaica will join the rhythm section as a percussionist. Following the gala, the popular after-party and nominee jam will be hosted by Miss Emily and will reunite blues fans and friends after the long months apart.






ANGELIQUE FRANCIS – Host & Performer

Born and raised in Ottawa Canada, Angelique is a naturally gifted musician, who first garnered attention as a young prodigy. She first took to the stage at age 7 and at 13 years old she made her American national television debut on the Oprah Network, for writing and composing an original theme song for the Gayle King show. By age 13 she was proficient in playing other instruments such as the acoustic guitar, upright Bass, electric guitar and electric bass. By age 14 she was playing at music festivals across North America opening for a variety of acts such as Beth Hart, Trooper and Shameka Copeland.  Angelique is a versatile and exceptionally gifted musician. This multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, multi-genre singer song writer and composer has wowed audiences across the globe with her electrifying performances, instrumental abilities and powerful textured vocals.




His musical legacy, which runs from the birth of rock ’n’ roll and rhythm & blues in Toronto through to his sons’ Juno-nominated blues band, is as long as Yonge Street itself.

Bobby Dean’s ancestral story goes even deeper: his great-grandfather was a U.S. slave who found freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad. For over half a century, he has paid tribute to that heritage with annual performances at Owen Sound’s Emancipation Festival.







Colin has been delivering his own blues-oriented rock since the early ’70s. He plays into heavy gospel and folk as well, making Linden’s work most recognizable across Canada. He has released a slew of records throughout the ’80s and ’90s, most notably winning a Juno Award for South at Eight-North at Nine  in 1994. He made quite an impression on the American home front with his 1997 release Through the Storm, Through the Night, but Linden continued making music into the new millennium and issued Raised By the Wolves in February 2000 and his latest release bLow. He is a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings with Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson. He has worked with Bruce Cockburn, Lucinda Williams, T-Bone Burnett, Kevin Gordon, Colin James, Emmylou Harris, Leon Redbone, Rita Chiarelli, Chris Thomas King, The Band, Keb’ Mo’, Charles Esten and Bob Dylan




There’s a tendency these days to try to pigeonhole any artist that attempts to breach the boundaries. Chalk it up to the restrictions of radio playlists or the media’s attempt to strictly define musicians by the music it believes artists ought to be making, creative instincts be damned.

Nevertheless Crystal Shawanda opted to defy those demands and chart her own path forward. Initially signed to RCA in 2007, she hit her stride as a country singer and songwriter when she scored a top 20 hit with her song “You Can Let Go” and subsequently tallied sales of over 50,000 copies of her debut album Dawn of a New Day and subsequently debuted in the Billboard Top 20. Nevertheless, she began to realize that the blues had captured her muse, and with that, she left the label, shifted her stance and began recording albums that reflected her love of blues and her natural affinity for that sound.

As she once told an interviewer, “The whole time I was singing Patsy Cline on stage, I was singing Etta James at home.”




As an award-winning performer, Danser has graced the stages of some of Canada’s most prestigious events and venues including the Winnipeg, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton Folk Festivals as well as The Canadian Women in Blues at Massey Hall and the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues and Mountain View Music Festivals.

Danser and her music have been profiled on CBC Radio, Global TV and newspapers across the country including the Winnipeg Free Press and Vancouver’s Georgia Straight weekly. She’s co-hosted Natch’l Blues with Holger Petersen, been profiled in the influential Penguin Eggs and completed a documentary film entitled Rails & Rivers: Searching for the Heart of the Blues.

In addition to being nominated four times for a Western Canadian Music Award, a national Maple Blues Award and winning the Ambassador of the Blues Award and the Best Independent Blues Album from the International Blues competition, and has recently been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. As if that wasn’t enough, Danser is also a nationally award-winning scholar who has presented at conferences throughout North America. She has also been the Artist in Residence at the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts in Calgary and facilitated music and healing courses for marginalized children and adults.


Sue Foley began playing guitar at 13, learning from family members and later from blues musician Tony D (Diteodoro). Through her interest in the music of The Rolling Stones, she became aware of traditional blues. At 16 Foley began playing acoustic blues in bars. After graduation in 1986 from Ottawa’s Fisher Park High School, she relocated to Vancouver, where she played in an all-female band (The Dots) and then formed The Sue Foley Band, with which she toured Canada. She then toured with harmonica player Mark Hummel, and in 1990 signed with Clifford Antone. Relocating to Austin, Texas, for the next six years, she performed in Antone’s club but also on the road across North America as well as in Europe and Japan. During this time she absorbed Texas and other blues styles and developed her playing and singing, performing with or opening for such figures as John Lee Hooker, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Joe Cocker, Tom Petty, the Neville Brothers, Jennifer Warnes and Johnny Winter.

Known as a fiery guitar player and seasoned blueswoman, Sue Foley plays blues-rock on a pink paisley Fender Telecaster guitar. Her playing and songwriting are influenced by Billie Holiday, the guitarist Memphis Minnie and T-Bone Walker.




COVID protocols are strictly in place, with proof of vaccination and valid ID required, with mandatory masks everywhere in the building, including during concerts.

Detailed information will be provided to ticket purchasers prior to the concert dates. Please visit for the most up to date information.

Voting for the MAPLE BLUES AWARDS is Now Closed

To see the full list of nominees Click here


Maple Blues Awards - Koerner Hall - January 15th, 2018
The 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 some 53 blues experts who form the MBA Nominating Panel. Co-chaired by the steering committee consisting of Cindy McLeod, 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.

The Maple Blues Award winners will be announced on January 31, 2022 at the LIVE Maple Blues Award Show to be held at Koerner Hall in Toronto. Tickets are on sale now at .

*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 Maple Blues Awards program is proudly organized by the Toronto Blues Society. 


Toronto Blues Society has received valuable input from the members of the Canadian blues community regarding the Maple Blues Awards procedures and voting process – and have developed policies and protocol to ensure the Maple Blues Award system is responsive and evolving. Please note the following rules:

  • 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.  Anyone who breaches this rule will be disqualified!

  • 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, 2020 to September 30, 2021.

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.


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.

Cam Hayden CKUA Edmonton AB
Chris Martin CBC Saturday Night Blues Edmonton AB
Cindy McLeod Calgary Blues Music Association Calgary AB
Holger Petersen CBC Saturday Night Blues, CKUA Edmonton AB
Al Forrie Hornby Island Blues Society Hornby Island BC
Brant Zwicker At the Crossroads, syndicated Kamloops BC
Brent Morrison Rockin’ Blues, CJSF Vancouver BC
Grant Payne CHLY Nanaimo BC
Paul Norton One O’Clock Jump, CFRO | Code Blue, CiTR Vancouver BC
Rod Dranfield White Rock Blues Society Surrey BC
Ron Simmonds CFRO Vancouver BC
Vince Almond CFBX Kamloops BC
Yanick Theriault Plus 90.7 FM (cfbo rebrand ) New Brunswick NB
Gene Bellows Voice of Bonne Bay Norris Point NFLD
Terry Parsons Blind Lemon Radio, CHMR St. John’s NFLD
Bruce Morel Music Marketing International Inc. Dartmouth NS
Cathy Prothro East Coast Blues Society Dartmouth NS
Sandy MacDonald Freelance Music Writer Halifax NS
Andrew Galloway Electro-Fi Records Toronto ON
Bruce Hall Grand River Blues Society Kitchener ON
Paul Panchezak Breakfast of Champions, CFMU McMaster Radio Hamilton, ON ON
Claude Cloutier Kitchener Blues Festival Kitchener ON
Deborah Cartmer CFBU St. Catharines ON
Eric Thom Freelance Music Writer Toronto ON
Jan MacDonald Downtown Kingston Limestone City Blues Festival Kingston, ON
John Emms Freelance Music Writer Timmins ON
Julie Hill Calling All Blues, CIUT FM Toronto ON
Ken Wallis Blues Source Canada, The Hawk Hamilton ON
Lee Evans Blueswater Blues Show, 91.3 FM Hanover ON
Liz Sykes Ottawa Blues Society Ottawa ON
Lori Murray Music By The Bay Live Uxbridge ON
Nick Harding Photographer Wasaga Beach ON
Rick Clarke Bruce County Blues Society/Lighthouse Blues Festival Kincardine ON
Stevie Connor The Sound Cafe Magazine | Blues & Roots Radio Mississauga ON
Alexandre Petit Viree Blues Hull QC
Daisy Hanna Montreal Blues Society Montreal QC
Dave Brennan Ottawa Blues Society Gatineau QC
David McCabe Montreal Blues Society St-Urbain Premier QC
David Bush Royal Blues with Dr. Dave, K103.7 Kahnawake QC
Debra Thornington Ottawa Blues Society | DAWG’ON BLUES, DAWG Gatineau QC
Greg Torrington The Blues, Stingray Music Montreal QC
John Detcheverry Cha Cha Cha In Blue, CKUT Montreal QC
Louis Brunet CKMN-FM 96,5 Rimouski QC
Yannick Lambert Donnacona Blues Festival Donnacona QC
Al Wood Saskatoon Blues Society Saskatoon SK
Gord MacAulay Canadian Blues Alliance Saskatoon SK

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

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©2022 Toronto Blues Society. Design by Janine Stoll Media.
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.