Mendes, Caesar among nominees as Oshawa Music Awards unveil new categories

Music Business Management professor at Durham College, Tony Sutherland, announcing the 2020 Oshawa Music Awards nominees at Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Photo credit: Melanie Lennon

Shawn Mendes’ single ‘Senorita’ is up for song of the year at this year’s Juno Awards in Saskatoon next month.

The Pickering superstar’s duet with Camila Cabello is also a nominee at the Oshawa Music Awards (OMA) in April.

The OMA has nominated well-known Canadian bands in the past, such as Oshawa’s Dizzy and Crown Lands. However, this year’s list of nominees is complete with two of the biggest names yet: Mendes and Oshawa’s Daniel Caesar.

“We’ll see where their hearts are,” said OMA organizer, Tony Sutherland, about the possibility of Mendes and Caesar attending the show. “We didn’t nominate them to see if they will come. We nominated them because they deserve to be nominated.”

The third annual OMA are April 3-4 and the festivities have already begun.

Sutherland, a Music Business Management (MBM) professor at Durham College (DC), announced this year’s nominees during a night of celebration at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) Feb. 7.

The awards will be handed out at separate galas over the final two days of Oshawa Music Week (OMW), March 30-April 4.

OMW is entirely arranged by the MBM students and staff. This year the event is undergoing noticeable changes and, according to Sutherland, it’s going to be their biggest show yet.

“I’m excited that it’s growing,” he said with a smile.

The idea for the OMA – which also ‘celebrates music in Durham Region’ – was introduced by former students Thao Nghiem and Julius Allan Rondilla.

Sutherland said it was something he’d considered before, but struggled to pursue because of various complications.

“We had a number of people who didn’t see the vision and…there was some friction in the classroom, but [Nghiem and Allan Rondilla] stuck with it,” he said. “The key is for us to continue regardless of the challenges.”

Sutherland said extra planning has really helped move things along over the years.

“The first-year event was good…now we have a little bit more time to get it even further,” he said. “This year we’ve had a longer period of time to plan it. We started planning this back in June or July.”

During that extra time, the MBM students and faculty decided to initiate some changes to the show. One of the OMA’s biggest alterations is its extended nomination categories.

There are six new awards to be won: Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Songwriter(s) of the Year, Durham Song of the Year, Music Video of the Year and Music Teacher of the Year.

The OMA also offers Lifetime Achievement awards, an important category, according to Sutherland.

This year’s winners are Bill and David Wilson of Wilson and Lee music store, Mogens Galberg of the Greenbank Folk Music Society, the late Mike Kupnicki of Alto Music and members of the bands Reign Ghost, Christmas and Spirit of Christmas.

“When you look at the people who you call the Lifetime Achievement award winners, these are people who have really spent their lives building a part of the industry,” he explained. “You can’t make it trivial to say, ‘we’re going to recognize you in a handshake.’ We have to make sure we celebrate those people properly.”

This is also the first year the OMA celebrations will take place over two nights, scheduled for April 3-4. The first night will occur at RMG like past years to honour the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement awards. The second evening honours the remaining categories at the Music Hall Concert Theatre.

“Let’s do one night to celebrate the Lifetime Achievement award winners. Let’s put the emphasis on the people who came before, and then the second night is to then build the people that are here now and the people that are coming later on,” he said.

Tickets are available on the Oshawa Music Awards website.