Comox Valley singer-songwriter Helen Austin, and Cincinnati’s Paul Otten are Big Little Lions. Photo via biglittlelions.com

Comox Valley singer-songwriter Helen Austin, and Cincinnati’s Paul Otten are Big Little Lions. Photo via biglittlelions.com

Big Little Lions earn Canadian Folk Music Award nomination

Duo featuring Comox Valley singer-songwriter Helen Austin keeping busy during pandemic

Big Little Lions – the musical duo featuring Comox Valley singer/songwriter Helen Austin, and Paul Otten of Cincinnati, Ohio – have been nominated for a 2021 Canadian Folk Music Award (CFMA).

Big Little Lions is one of five finalists in the Vocal Group of the Year category. Their nomination comes in support of their fourth studio album, Inside Voice.

Receiving CFMA nominations is nothing new for Big Little Lions; they won Ensemble of the Year in 2015 for their debut album, A Little Frayed, A Little Torn.

They were also nominated for a pair of CFMAs in 2016 – Contemporary Album of the Year, and Vocal Group of the Year – for their follow-up album, Just Keep Moving.

CFMA project director Tara Parks explained the nomination process.

“There are five independent jurors for each of the 19 CFMA categories,” she told The Record. “These jurors, who are not known to each other, vote in two stages. For stage one, jurors review all submissions in their category and rank their top 10 selections in order of preference. These rankings are then tabulated by our accountant to determine the nominees.

“During stage two, jurors review all nominees in their category, and rank their five preferred nominees in order of preference and the recipients are calculated by our accountant. Recipients are not made public until the ‘Awards Weekend,’ which will be an online event in April 2021.”

***

When BLL first formed, in 2013, Austin described the collaboration as “a project.” It has evolved into much more.

“My publisher at the time wanted some male-female vocal stuff… so I asked him (Otten) to do a guy-girl vocal thing,” she explained. “It was just going to be (music) for TV and film. So we spent a year just doing that without really speaking to each other even. It was just writing and emails. We gave it a band name just for the sake of presenting [the product] to publishers. We didn’t think it was going to turn into anything, really. But then he came out here and we did some gigs, and it’s just one of those things that we just kept going because it worked. We never had any plans.”

It has worked remarkably well, considering the two live more than 4,000 kilometres apart and rarely see each other in person, when not touring.

All their production is done remotely, which has set itself up well for a year like 2020. They haven’t had to adjust their work methods much at all.

“It’s really just business as usual for us,” said Austin. “The only difference is we haven’t been able to get together for tours. Everything else is kind of the same.

“Actually, we see more of each other now, because we are making the effort to get together [virtually] every Wednesday, for a ‘snack and chat.’”

While the touring has been halted due to COVID-19, the pandemic has produced somewhat of an opportunity for the duo.

“We did release a ‘pandemic’ album in July, called Are We There Yet? Our publisher said he needed some songs with the ‘we are all in this together’ theme, because lots of ads were changing over quickly and they wanted some songs ready,” Austin said.

Big Little Lions has been rolling out videos of the songs from Are We There Yet every month, and they have been livestreaming concerts of their full albums since September.

“The third Thursday of every month we have been playing an album top to bottom, then sharing the new video online as well,” she said. “For December, we are doing our Christmas album, because it makes sense, and that’s on the 17th of December.”

To see their videos, or to sign up for their livestream concerts, go to biglittlelions.com

Access is by donation, with part of the funds going towards charity.

“With the donations, we are giving 25 per cent to Indigenous and Black youth programs,” said Austin. “I found two … Canadian ones – blackyouth.ca, and indspire.ca.”

ALSO: COVID self-isolation video uses Big Little Lions song



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AwardsComox ValleyEntertainment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox assisted in helping an injured hiker down from the top of Mt. Benson near Nanaimo Jan. 23. Photo by 19 Wing Comox
With video: 442 Squadron assists mid-Island mountain rescue

The crew on the Buffalo hand-launched 15 flares

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Comox Valley artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Comox Valley medical clinics are all open, including the availability to book face-to-face care (i.e. for a physical examination) as per your clinic’s protocol (most clinics operate a “virtual care first” policy). ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley doctors offer answers to local COVID health care questions

Public service announcement submitted by the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read