Jade Eagleson and Tenille Townes toast of CCMA Awards with three wins each

HAMILTON — Canadian stars Jade Eagleson and Tenille Townes added three trophies each to their growing collections at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Saturday.

Both tied as the top winners at this year's celebration of homegrown country music, with Eagleson landing both the entertainer and male artist of the year on the broadcast. He picked up another award at an industry gala held on Friday.

Townes made history by winning the female artist prize for the fifth consecutive year.

"I feel so much joy," Townes exclaimed backstage at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.

"I love these nights. I love seeing everybody; I love celebrating a year of so much Canadian music."

Earlier, Townes won songwriter of the year and country music program as host of a Christmas TV special.

Her latest wins push Townes' career tally to 17 CCMA awards, more than half the number of her idol Shania Twain, who has 33 in total.

Presented with the possibility of moving closer to Twain's position, Townes recalled how important the "Any Man of Mine" singer was to her start. At nine years old, Townes was pulled on to the stage by Twain at one of the superstar's concerts.

"It put such a fire in me to chase this crazy dream," said the 29-year-old after her wins.

"It’s my dream now to keep that spark going."

Sibling duo the Reklaws kicked off the night as hosts by challenging viewers to a drinking game.

“Any time you hear the word beer take a big ol’ sip, because all you country fans want to hear is songs about beer," said Jenna Walker, who alongside her brother sings the sudsy hits "11 Beers" and "Can't Help Myself."

The Reklaws then charged into a performance of a song about beer written for the show.

Beer came up a bunch more times. Dallas Smith gave viewers another opportunity to chug when he performed his track "Singing in a Beer" and Tyler Joe Miller and Matt Lang sang "Never Met a Beer."

Other big winners at the show included James Barker Band of Woodville, Ont., who took home best group or duo, as well as the fan choice award.

Meanwhile, Josh Ross, the Burlington, Ont., singer-songwriter whose hit single "Trouble" helped catapult him to fame, was named breakthrough artist.

A few pop-country duets ignited the show, including newcomer Sacha who joined Tyler Shaw on their track "Confident," before Shaw wandered to a piano to play his own track "Love You Still."

Townes brought on stage Pat Monahan of the pop-rock band Train to perform their new single "I Know." Then the pair took on a rendition of "Drive By," a 2012 radio hit by the band also known for "Drops of Jupiter."

A lively performance of "On the Water" by James Barker Band and Dalton Dover came to its big finish when the Reklaws bounded onto the stage in shark outfits as confetti rained down.

Lindsay Ell picked up single of the year for "Right on Time" a moment that left the stunned Calgary singer collecting herself on stage.

"This is the first time I’ve gotten to accept an award on TV and I’m holding it upside down," she laughed.

The 34-year-old thanked many of the people who helped her succeed, including rock legend Randy Bachman. The "Takin' Care of Business" songwriter met Ell at 13 years old and helped foster her early career.

Backstage, Ell broke into tears as the moment settled in.

"For the longest time, I thought I was an artist who didn't win awards and I could just congratulate all my friends doing incredible things," she said.

But she added this win, in particular, has offered perspective on the road to success:

"A lot of times that journey looks a lot different than you think it should," she said.

"There's a beauty in accepting the order that things fall into place."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2023.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misidentified Tenille Townes in the photo cutline.