Toronto Blues Society | » About Maple Blues Awards

About Maple Blues Awards


27th Annual Maple Blues Awards

Monday February 12th, 2024   7pm

The Phoenix Concert Theatre

410 Sherbourne St. Toronto

The Maple Blues Awards is Canada’s national blues awards program.

A night of Celebrating the best of Canada’s Blues














Congratulations to everyone who won at this year’s Maple Blues Awards! Winner names are highlighted

as * WINNER in the nominee list below along with the sponsor.

Entertainer of the Year  – TD Kitchener Blues Festival Angelique FrancisBlackburn BrothersBlue Moon MarqueeBywater Call*Matt Andersen

Electric Act of the Year  – Music By The Bay Live Blackburn BrothersBywater Call*Colin JamesMatt Andersen  Sue Foley Acoustic Act of the Year – ThinkTank Music Network  Brandon IsaakGarrett MasonHarrison KennedyMichael Jerome Browne*Suzie Vinnick Male Vocalist of the Year  – Playing with Fire Brandon IsaakBrooke BlackburnHarrison Kennedy*Matt AndersenSteve Marriner Female Vocalist of the Year – Playing with Fire Crystal ShawandaDawn Tyler WatsonMeghan Parnell*Miss Emily Shakura S’Aida New Artist or Group of the Year – Tim Hortons Southside Shuffle Blues and Jazz Festival  Angelina Hunter TrioGarnetta Cromwell & DaGroovmasters*Little Magic Sam BandSandra BouzaThe Sugar Darlings  Recording/Producer of the Year – Gypsy Soul Records  *The Big Bottle of Joy ARTIST: Matt Andersen PRODUCER: Matt Andersen Midnight BluesARTIST: Crystal ShawandaPRODUCER: Dewayne Strobel  One Step Closer ARTIST: Brandon IsaakPRODUCER: Brandon Isaak/Conrad HillisRemainARTIST: Bywater CallPRODUCER: Renan YildizdoganSoulFunkn’BluesARTIST: Blackburn BrothersPRODUCER: Howard AyeeB.B. King International Artist of the Year  –   The Lighthouse Blues FestivalChristone ”Kingfish” IngramRick Estrin & The Nightcats*Tedeschi Trucks BandThorbjorn Risager and The Black TornadoWarren Haynes (Gov’t Mule)Guitarist of the Year  – Long & McQuade Musical Instruments  Brooke Blackburn*Garrett MasonJack SempleSue Foley Tony D (Diteodoro) Harmonica Player of the Year   –   Lee Oskar Harmonicas*Guy BelangerJerome Godboo Joe MurphySteve MarrinerRoly PlattPiano/Keyboard Player of the Year David VestDebra PowerDuane Blackburn*Jesse O’ BrienKenny ‘Blues Boss’ WayneHorn Player of the Year   –  Montreal Blues Society*Alison YoungChris WhiteleyDan Jancar Kaven JalbertLoretta HaleDrummer of the Year  –  absoLIVE CanadaChris NordquistCory BlackburnGary Craig*Jim CassonMatt Sobb Bassist of the YearAngelique Francis*Gary KendallJasmine ColetteNathan BlackburnRussell JacksonSongwriter of the Year – SOCANAndre BissonBlackburn BrothersBrandon IsaakCrystal Shawanda*Matt Andersen Blues With A Feeling/Lifetime Achievement Award   –   Stony Plain Records Alec FraserBobby Dean BlackburnBrent ParkinCheryl LescomDalannah Gail BowenDanny BrooksMike McKennaMurray Porter*Sue FoleyTom Lavin


Crystal Shawanda
The Toronto Blues Society has been encouraging the emergence of Indigenous blues talent throughout the years since 1993, when they produced the first all-Indigenous blues
show, titled, ‘Rez Bluez’. Since then, the talent in this genre by Indigenous musicians has grown substantially. During the pandemic the TBS Board proposed the idea of having
a Maple Blues Award for an Indigenous Artist or Group. With the assistance of Elaine Bomberry as chair of the committee, six additional Indigenous people, including Diane
Kohoko, Amos Key Jr., Mell Kirkland, Ted Whitecalf, Lance Delisle, and Dennis Joseph, who are knowledgeable in the blues genre participated as volunteers. Together they
compiled an overall list and voted for the Indigenous Blues Artist/Group.
The recipient of the Indigenous Artist/Group of the Year is Nashville-based Crystal Shawanda, Anishinaabe from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, Manitoulin Island. A JUNO Award winner and multiple Maple Blues Award winner, Shawanda is a force to reckoned with on stages across North America. “Having crossed over from the country music genre, she made her soulful blues voice known right away from coast-to-coast-to-coast”, says Bomberry. “Not only does she perform at large festivals and concert halls, she also performs extensively at Indigenous events and speaks to and inspires Indigenous Youth throughout her travels.”
On receiving word of the award, Shawanda exclaimed “I’m so thankful to everyone for this great honor, and excited and hopeful that this new category will serve as a
steppingstone for all the amazing Indigenous artists on the blues music scene today. Thank you to the Toronto Blues society for creating this space. Miigwetch!”

Brant Zwicker
Kamloops BC’s Brant Zwicker, is the winner of the Blues Booster of the Year award, is a long-time advocate for blues music through his syndicated radio program “At The Crossroads, where he acts as the host, writer and producer of since February 2003. “At The Crossroads” is heard on 112 FM transmitters or streaming platforms in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Belgium. The Blues Booster of the Year award is a very special recognition given to individuals and festivals for their dedication to supporting blues in Canada. “To receive an award of the stature of Blues Booster of the Year from the Toronto Blues Society truly is a significant honour for me. I do what I do in the blues community purely out of love and appreciation for the music and for those who make and support it”, says Zwicker. “That has always been the goal and the reward, so to be recognized for something that comes naturally to me is, indeed, most humbling.”




Feature Performers


Matt Andersen

When Matt Andersen steps on stage, he brings a lifetime of music to every note he plays. His latest album, The Big Bottle of Joy, is all about hard-won celebration; a dozen songs infused with raw blues-rock, rollicking Americana, thoughtful folk, and ecstatic gospel. Andersen’s stage presence is informed by decades of cutting his teeth in dusty clubs, dim-lit bars, and grand theatres all over the world, delivering soulful performances that run the gamut from intimate to wall-shaking. In the studio, he’s always brought the same attention to detail and commitment to craft as he has to his live show, and the result – a multi-faceted and poignant body of work – has led him to amass over 28 million streams on Spotify and 26 million views on YouTube.

In addition to headlining major festivals, clubs and theatres throughout North America, Europe, and Australia, he has shared the stage and toured with Marcus King, Beth Hart, Marty Stuart, Greg Allman, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Randy Bachman, Serena Ryder, Tab Benoit, and more.

Andersen nabbed the 2013 and 2016 European Blues Awards for Best Solo/Acoustic Act, was the first ever Canadian to take home top honours in the solo category at the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, won the CIMA Road Gold award in 2015, and has won multiple Maple Blues Awards.

Duane Blackburn, Brooke Blackburn

 & Cory Blackburn

 (Blackburn Brothers)

Musically, the Blackburn name has been forever imprinted in our ears by Bobby Dean Blackburn, a veteran R&B artist who gained legendary status in the Toronto music scene, performing the city circuit for over 50 years. Beyond the music, other history runs deep too. The Blackburn name is tied to the history of the Underground Railroad, and there is a direct connection to the musical talents that we know and listen to today. A thread of Soul in almost every track the band records.

Blackburn Brothers received the Maple Blues Award for BEST NEW BAND in 2010, a JUNO nomination for BLUES ALBUM OF THE YEAR in 2016, Duane Blackburn received a  Maple Blues Award nomination for KEYBOARD/PIANO PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019, 2020, 2021, Cory Blackburn received a Maple Blues Award nomination for DRUMMER OF THE YEAR in 2020 & 2022, the band received a Maple Blues Award nomination for ELECTRIC ACT OF THE YEAR in 2022.

In 2023, Blackburn Brothers released their latest album SoulFunkn’BLUES with their Toronto-based record label Electro-Fi Records. The band became Canada South Blues Society Hall of Fame Inductees. Considered the highest honours on the Canadian Blues scene

Crystal Shawanda

Juno Award-winning powerhouse Crystal Shawanda is back with her latest studio album, Midnight Blues, on True North Records. Her latest fiery blues collection showcases her full-throttle raspy voice, unmatched in today’s musical landscape, and an authentic appreciation for the genre dating back to her youth.

Crystal followed up her JUNO Award-winning album Church House Blues with another irresistible release, Midnight Blues, and quickly garnered her an 8th JUNO nomination, following her win in the Blues Album of the Year. THAT was the first time in JUNO history and Indigenous artist won in that category. One for the books, as they say.

It’s also significant that she made history as the first Indigenous artist to win in the Blues Album of the Year category,  inspiring others to pursue their dreams and share their talents on the stage one day like she has.

Angelina Hunter

(Angelina Hunter Trio)

Angelina has the power to shrink a venue or blow it up with her voice alone. Totally unique, when she begins to sing, she sounds like no one else. She can tell a sweet story with her voice or bewitch you with its intensity. It’s a powerful instrument on its own.

When she plugs in her Stratocaster, expect a wide range of style, emotion, and power. She can lull you in with sweet melodies and sear you with razor sharp blues attitude and screaming guitar lines.

The Angelina Hunter Trio has cultivated their sound around the personality and stylings of Angelina Hunter on vocals and guitar. A real melting pot of influences and many years of perfecting musical and stage craft have seen the “AHT” (as dubbed by their fans) win over audiences with their contemporary take on the blues throughout Canada.





Brandon Isaak

Brandon Isaak is one of Canada’s premier blues guitar players on the scene today. Isaak puts the emphasis on soul and playing only the notes needed to move the audience and make a connection. He’s a no nonsense kinda of blues musician who holds true the deep traditions of the playing the blues the way it was done in the 40’s and 50’s. Crowds always leave Brandon’s shows with a smile on thier face and a need to come back for more. After 35 years in the business, this bluesman is always asked back as he’s a total pro off and on the stage. If you like top notch blues, hard hitting lyrics and great night of entertainment, Brandon Isaak is your man.






Quisha Wint

Host and Performance

Quisha Wint is the co-founder and president of QW Productions whose mission is to provide outstanding and professional entertainment in a classy and nostalgic atmosphere, while providing a platform for artists and musicians to showcase their awesome gift in music. She aims to educate both the public and upcoming artists on the importance of keeping the music from the past alive, music that touches our hearts.

Quisha was born to sing and entertain. She grew up in a Jamaican/Canadian home listening to Reggae, Motown, Gospel, R&B, then entered the jazz program at Humber College in the mid ’90s. From there she embarked upon her dream of performing with well-known musicians, which took her to exciting overseas hotel engagements. Since then, Quisha has sung in many parts of Asia, Europe, North America, and Caribbean.

With a bright personality and strong emotive vocal abilities, Quisha is one of Toronto’s most sought-after session vocalists. She also performs regularly at corporate gigs. Currently living in the GTA, Quisha is well established in the tight-knit music industry. She is a phenomenal and expressive vocalist who also inspires others to live out their dreams.

Not only is she an entrepreneur, producer, director, songwriter, arranger, worship director and a mother, Quisha just began her journey into speaking at corporate events to empower and enrich corporation employees.

Quisha released her 1st EP entitled My Life in 2021 with rave reviews. Her 1st single Black Shoes, off her grassroots project recently hit #1 on the Indie Music Artists charts.

Quisha is an inspiration to many, and her hope is to live out her life knowing that many lives have been transformed positively through her works.


Return of The After Glow Jam

in The Parlour room in The Phoenix

Hosted by The Little Magic Sam Band

Right after the awards


Food Provided by Blazing Kitchen

This year we will have food available during and after the show.


3 tacos for $12 plus hstOr singles for $5 each Famous cornflake fried fish with chipotle mayo Jerk chicken with mango marmaladeSmoked brisket in adoboPulled pork with slawCrispy fried cauliflower …veganPulled yam and jackfruit…vegan

About the Maple Blues Awards

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.


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 40+ blues experts who form the MBA Nominating Panel. Co-chaired by the steering committee consisting of Cindy McLeod, Brent Morrison, 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 February 12, 2023 at the LIVE Maple Blues Award Show in Toronto.

*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, 2022 to September 30, 2023. Qualifying recordings must contain at least six tracks or 20 minutes of music.

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. 

Al Forrie Hornby Island Blues Society; 3590 Harwood Road, Hornby Isand Bc V0R1Z0 Hornby Island, BC 1 – British Columbia
Brant Zwicker* At the Crossroads, syndicated; Attn: Brant Zwicker, PO Box 3002, Kamloops, BC V2C 6B7 Kamloops, BC 1 – British Columbia
Brent Morrison* Rockin’ Blues, CJSF; #205-130 11th St. East, North Vancouver, BC, V7L 4R3 Vancouver, BC 1 – British Columbia
Grant Payne CHLY; 537 Selinger Place Ladysmith BC V9G 2C5 Nanaimo, BC 1 – British Columbia
Paul Norton One O’Clock Jump, CFRO | Code Blue, CiTR; 314 – 1422 E 3rd Avenue, Vancouver BC V5N 5R5 Vancouver, BC 1 – British Columbia
Rod Dranfield White Rock Blues Society; 15798 38A Ave. Surrey BC V3Z 0K9 Surrey, BC 1 – British Columbia
Ron Simmonds CFRO; 3218 Yukon St, Vancouver, BC. V5Y 3R9 Vancouver, BC 1 – British Columbia
Vince Almond CFBX; 110 Robson Drive,Kamloops, B.C. V2E 1V9 Kamloops, BC 1 – British Columbia
Cam Hayden CKUA; 3204-44C Ave NW Edmonton AB T6T 1G5 Edmonton, AB 2 – Alberta
Chris Martin CBC Saturday Night Blues; c/o CBC Box 555 Edmonton AB T5J 2P4 Edmonton, AB 2 – Alberta
Cindy McLeod* Calgary Blues Music Association; #188 A6433 Bowness Road NW Calgary, AB T3B 0E6 Calgary, AB 2 – Alberta
Holger Petersen CBC Saturday Night Blues, CKUA; 9963-83 St. Edmonton, AB, T6A 3N3 Edmonton, AB 2 – Alberta
Al Wood Saskatoon Blues Society; 407 – 150 Pawlychenko lane, Saskatoon, SK S7V 0B4 Saskatoon, SK 3 – Saskatchewan
Andrew Galloway Electro-Fi Records; 185 Legion Rd N, Suite 2217, Toronto ON M8Y 0A1 Toronto, ON 5 – Ontario
Bruce Hall Grand River Blues Society; 54-19 Garden Ave Brantford Ont N3S0A1 Kitchener, ON 5 – Ontario
Claude Cloutier Kitchener Blues Festival; 836 Butternut Avenue Waterloo, Ontario, N2V 2M4 Kitchener, ON 5 – Ontario
Deborah Cartmer CFBU CFBU 103.7 FM, c/o 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1 St. Catharines, ON 5 – Ontario
Eric Thom Freelance Music Writer; 18 Arlene Crescent, Scarborough, ON M1P 3L9 Toronto, ON 5 – Ontario
Jan MacDonald Downtown Kingston Limestone City Blues Festival; Downtown Kingston! BIA, 200-353 King Street East, Kingston, ON K7L 3B5 Kingston, ON 5 – Ontario
John Emms Freelance Music Writer; John Emms 167 Columbus Ave. Timmins Ontario P4N 3H7 Timmins, ON 5 – Ontario
Julie Hill Calling All Blues, CIUT FM; 1053 Menominee Lake Road, Lake of Bays, Ontario P1H 2J3 Toronto, ON 5 – Ontario
Ken Wallis Blues & Roots Radio, INDI 101.5 Hamilton, ON 5 – Ontario
Liz (Elizabeth) Sykes Ottawa Blues Society; 481 Avalon Place, Ottawa ON K1G 4C8 Ottawa ON 5 – Ontario
Lori Murray Music By The Bay Live; 4580 Concession 6, Uxbridge ON L9P 0K7 Uxbridge, ON 5 – Ontario
Nick Harding Photographer; 658 Oxbow Park Drive, Wasaga Beach, Ont. L9Z 2V2 Wasaga Beach, ON 5 – Ontario
Paul Panchezak Breakfast of Champions, CFMU McMaster Radio; 373 Cochrane Rd, Hamilton, Ont. L8K 6C2 Hamiton, ON 5 – Ontario
Rick Clarke Bruce County Blues Society/Lighthouse Blues Festival; 9 Cathcart St. Kincardine ON N2Z 0B3 Kincardine, ON 5 – Ontario
Daisy Hanna Montreal Blues Society; 37 Saturn rd, Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec H9B2P8 Montreal, QC 6 – Quebec
Dave Brennan Ottawa Blues Society P.O. Box 35043 – RPO Westgate, Ottawa, ON K1Z 1A2 Gatineau, QC 6 – Quebec
David McCabe Montreal Blues Society 50 Rang Double, Saint-Urbain-Premier QC J0S 1Y0 St-Urbain Premier, QC 6 – Quebec
David Bush Royal Blues with Dr. Dave, K1037; P.O. box 346. Kahnawake, Quebec, J0L 1B0 Kahnawake, QC 6 – Quebec
Debra Thornington Ottawa Blues Society; 47 rue St Medard, Gatineau, QC J9H 1Z4 Gatineau, QC 6 – Quebec
John Detcheverry Cha Cha Cha In Blue, CKUT;; John Detcheverry, Cha Cha Cha In Blue, 6670 24th Avenue, Montreal QC H1T 3M7 Montreal, QC 6 – Quebec
Louis Brunet FLOFM 96,5 (formely CKMN-FM 96,5); 516, rue principale ouest, Saint-Anaclet (Quebec) G0K 1H0 Rimouski, QC 6 – Quebec
Yannick Lambert Donnacona Blues Festival; 216 Godin, Donnacona, Qc G3M 1V8 Donnacona, QC 6 – Quebec
Yanick Theriault* CODIAC FM 93.5; 153 Jordan Crescent, Moncton, NB, E1C 0S5 New Brunswick 7 – New Brunswick
Gene Bellows Voice of Bonne Bay; PO Box 48, Norris Point, NL, A0K 3V0 Norris Point, NL 8 – Newfoundland
Bruce Morel Music Marketing International Inc.; 178 Silistria Drive, Dartmouth, NS B2W 6B1 Dartmouth, NS 9 – Nova Scotia
Cathy Prothro East Coast Blues Society; 351 Pleasant St, Dartmouth, NS B2Y3S4 Dartmouth, NS 9 – Nova Scotia

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



Donate Join TBS Volunteer

©2024 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.