Saskatchewan Country Music Awards going virtual amid coronavirus pandemic

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Saskatchewan Country Music Awards going virtual
WATCH: The 2020 Saskatchewan Country Music Awards will be hosted virtually – May 15, 2020

The Saskatchewan Country Music Association‘s (SCMA) awards show will look a lot different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, the SCMA is hosting its show virtually for the first time in 31 years.

“We’ve never produced an actual award show for streaming purposes. It’s always been a TV broadcast showing up on YouTube at a later date so people can watch it, ” said Wes LaBrash, SCMA president.

“The quality of the audio was not that good and would eventually have to be taken down.”

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It’s not an ideal situation, but LaBrash said the show will be exciting as ever, with some great acts on board.

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“There’s a really good mix of some of the big names from the last decade as well as some newer people that may not have gotten a lot of exposure,” LaBrash said.

Shantaia is an up-and-coming artist living in Saskatoon. Last year, she won an SCMA award in the Emerging Artist category.

Saturday will be her first time performing at the awards show.

“For the past four years, I was really hoping to be on that stage with that incredible band. This year, it looks a bit different, but nonetheless, I’m considered a performer, and it’s a huge honour to be recognized by your peers,” Shantaia said.

“There is so much talent that comes from this province.”

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Shantaia is preforming her single I Wish You Would from her recently released album Chapter One.

She said the show being online is bittersweet, but it isn’t taking away from the excitement.

“I’m looking forward to just being able to relax and watch everybody, watch the show the happen,” Shantaia said. “It will still be very cool and a moment we’re all going to remember.”

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After taking home the Fans’ Choice Entertainer of the Year award in 2019, independent artist Samara Yung, who lives in Yorkton, is nominated in four categories this year.

Yung is up for another Fans’ Choice Entertainer of the Year, along with best Female Artist and Interactive Artist or Group of the Year. Her song Swerve is up for Single of the Year.

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“It help solidifies what I am doing as an independent artist, being recognized not only by the fans and the radio but also by my peers,” Yung said.

“It means a lot to have those nominations. We live in a very talented province…I’m honoured to be in there with all the people I’m nominated with. It’s really special. I might not come home with anything, and that is OK. Everybody deserves to win.”

Yung said she has mixed feelings about not being able to attend a live event this year but is making the best of it, knowing the severity of the situation.

“I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first because we still want to hold onto the social aspect of the industry. That’s what makes us artists and one of the reasons we become artists, to get out with the people, be with the fans and with each other,” Yung said.

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“I am a little bit torn about it. I understand why we are adapting, and why we are doing the virtual thing, but I’m still holding onto the hope that I can see all my friends again one day.”

LaBrash said Saskatchewan produces great talent and that he is excited to see how the show comes together.

“When I look at the stats, I think Saskatchewan country artists have put out more than 60 songs to radio this year, and on a per capita basis, that puts everybody else to shame,” LaBrash said.

“We’re kind of the king of country right now when it comes to putting out radio-quality music.”

The award show takes place on the SCMA website at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan country singer songwriter, JJ Voss moving his cancelled shows online'
Saskatchewan country singer songwriter, JJ Voss moving his cancelled shows online

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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