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Haviah Mighty & Leela Gilday Win Inaugural HER Music Awards

The SOCAN Foundation has announced the two recipients of the inaugural Her Music Awards sponsored by Re:Sound. During the evening of Feb. 6, 2020, Haviah Mighty (Toronto) and Leela Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) each received a $5,000 prize during a full-house reception held in downtown Toronto.

“The Her Music Awards are designed to celebrate and support female-identified people building momentum, as music creators on the verge of taking their creative careers to the next level,” says Charlie Wall-Andrews, Executive Director of SOCAN Foundation and brainchild of the program. “This program is also designed to empower award recipients, and to help them reach their full potential.”

The recipients were selected by a jury composed of Cris Derksen, Frannie Holder, and Martine Groulx. All applications were evaluated on the basis of the quality of their musical work, career potential, as well as the impact that receiving an award would have on their personal development as an artist.

“Women are making incredible music all over this world right now!” adds winner Leela Gilday. “Hearing it, lifting it up, working with women, and honouring women in music will enrich all of us. I hope to use the award to continue to blaze trails for more young women, so that one day a young female musician can look around and say, ‘There used to be gender bias in the music industry?’”

“I became aware of the Her Music Awards shortly before applying,” says the other winner, Haviah Mighty. “As a mid-level, female Canadian musician, I felt this award was right up my alley. Still, I was surprised to hear that I’m a recipient, and very grateful to have been considered. I’m committed to continuing to push the conversation of female perspective in these ways, and think it’s amazing that more and more music outlets (and others) are acknowledging the female contribution. Our stories as Canadian women are diverse, and should be a part of the stories we tell as a country.”

Haviah Mighty has been releasing music independently since 2009, but it was her project Flower City (2017), that propelled her career into further success. In May 2019, Mighty released the Polaris Prize-winning album, 13th Floor, her most fully-realized project to date, making history as the first hip-hop artist and first Black woman to ever receive the honour.

Gilday was born and raised in Denendeh, Northwest Territories. She writes about the people and the land that created her. The power in her voice conveys her feelings of love and life in a rugged environment and vibrant culture. Leela’s family is from Délįne on the shore of Great Bear Lake, and her rich vocals dance across the rhythmic beats of traditional Dene drumming, and smooth contemporary melodic lines. This JUNO Award winner has toured every province and territory, and several countries internationally. She believes music has an inexplicable effect on people. She’s a storyteller, and through this, reflects the world to itself.

These awards are one of the many SOCAN Foundation competitions that, for more than 25 years, have allowed the organization to financially support promising Canadian artists, while underscoring their merit and their outstanding artistic expression.

More details on SOCAN Foundation Awards may be found at https://www.socanfoundation.ca/awards.

[Pictured at top: (L-R) SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste, Leela Gilday, Haviah Mighty & SOCAN Foundation ED Charlie Wall-Andrews]

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.
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