When Vancouver Island MusicFest executive director Doug Cox announced Angelique Francis as one of his acts for this summer’s festival, he said, “She is one of the hottest things going in the Canadian music scene right now. She is being nominated for awards every time she turns around.”
He wasn’t wrong.
The week before that announcement, Francis was nominated for a 2023 Juno Award for Blues Album of the Year, for her latest release, Long River.
On Saturday, March 11, she won the award.
The Juno for Blues Album of the Year has historically been a male-dominated award.
Sue Foley was the first female artist to win the award, in 2001. The next female winner was 19 years later, when Dawn Tyler Wilson won, in 2020.
Francis’s win marks the third female to win Blues Album of the Year in the past four years.
Is this an indication of the landscape turning?
“I hope so! I am definitely seeing a lot of amazing women in blues music right now,” said Francis. “I think that there are a lot of opportunities for us to reach out to a lot of people. I was really inspired by incredible female musicians when I was growing up. I saw how powerful they were, and I wanted to contribute to that narrative. So I hope that with all of these women – these amazing women – can help to inspire other young women and girls to do what they wish to do. And if that is in the blues, then that would be an incredible thing.”
Bros Landreth win as well
Francis was not the only MusicFest act to take centre stage at the Junos.
Winnipeg act Bros Landreth, who will be also playing at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, won the Contemporary Roots Album of the Year for their album, Come Morning. They previously won the 2015 Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group, for their album Let It Lie.
After three years of relative isolation, Joey and David are looking forward to a more active touring schedule.
“The 300 days a year on the road are long gone – I think a lot of us agree the pandemic has showed us that maybe a little extra time at home is good for the soul,” said Joey. “If the pandemic taught us one thing, it was how important home life is, but we are really looking forward to sharing our music this summer.”
Tickets for the festival, which runs July 14-16 at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, can be purchased at islandmusicfest.com
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