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

Karilyn, right, with her older sister, Sabrina. Both siblings are members of the YANA family, after being helped by the community organization on separate occasions. Photo supplied
Siblings both members of the YANA family

Comox Valley non-profit helped Geiger family on separate occasions

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future finally surfaces at Royal B.C. Museum

Museum dives into the world of the killer whale as delayed feature exhibition now open

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Polystyrene has been outlawed as a take-out option for restaurants in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Black Press Media file photo)
Styrofoam done as a takeout option on Island’s Pacific Rim

Tofino and Ucluelet ban polystyrene take-out containers

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
IIO investigating after police dog bites man near Ladysmith

RCMP dog bit man during traffic stop on Friday, April 17

Most Read