The Sound Cafe
Canadian Blues & Roots Artist André Bisson Picks Up Prestigious Songwriter Award
By Stevie Connor. L to R: Anne Connor, André Bisson, Loretta Hale, Stevie Connor
Friday March 10th 2023, on a blustery and snowy evening, we set out from our HQ in Port Credit, Ontario and headed westwards along the lakeshore on a 35 minute drive, our destination was Burlington, to meet up and spend the evening with singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and musician (yes, all of those) André Bisson, and his partner and band member, Loretta Hale. Our purpose was to present the Blues & Roots Radio International Song Contest Award to André, which he had won at the end of January 2023. We don't often get to present the award personally, as the contestants are literally from all over the world, previous winners having come from America, Scotland, and, during the pandemic from here in Canada which prevented us from meeting in person.
All songs are judged by an independent panel of jurors who are presenters on the station, and are currently in the music industry around the world, a number of whom sit on regional and national award panels. Each year the submission numbers grow, and it's not an easy task to whittle the entries down to the category winners and overall winner. We are very grateful for the time jurors spend listening to each track submitted.
The contest is held by our sister platform, Blues & Roots Radio, annually, the competition's mission is to provide the opportunity to nurture the musical talent of songwriters on all levels, both amateur and professional, and promote excellence in the art of song craft. Previous overall winners have included Thornetta Davis, Lynne Hanson, Colin Clyne and Terra Spencer.
So it was a real delight and pleasure for my wife Anne and I, as co-founders of Blues & Roots Radio, to present this award on behalf of the station. And, at this point I would like to say how very grateful we are to our sponsors, Cooper Mediation, Global Learning Solutions and The Sound Cafe, for without their support the contest would not be possible.
The winning song, ‘Down the Line’, is from André 's most recent album 'The Ballad of Lucy Stone'. The song was inspired by the love of old westerns, songs about heartbreak, and a fascination with the industrial revolution. The 1800s were a time of great technological change and a big part of this change was travel; particularly by train. This song describes a man who is heartbroken because he cannot be with the one he loves. He feels the solution is to hop a freight train and travel as far away (both physically and emotionally) as he can. He prays that the cry of the whistle will drown out his sorrow and the whisky will numb the pain.
It's a contemporary blues song with a beautiful string arrangement, and is a well deserved winner in an extremely strong field in each category of the competition. Other category winners this year included Izzy Burns (Idaho,USA) and Jeff Plankenhorn (British Columbia, Canada), all the winning songs can be heard at the bottom of this article.
Over the course of the evening it was very interesting to hear of André's background in music, having graduated from the Applied Music programme at the renowned Mohawk College in Hamilton. As the sole songwriter and arranger for a group that spans from 6-20 musicians, André has created his own musical brand infused with soul, roots, blues, and R&B. Using an eclectic combination of instruments, he creates a musical story that becomes the soundtrack for his lyrics.
From a small town in Northern Ontario to lively crowds across England and Wales, André Bisson has proved that he has a message worth listening to. With a career that spans over 20 years, his musical resume includes 9 studio albums, countless awards, and sold out shows across Canada, the USA, UK, and Europe.
Since first taking to the stage at age 15, André’s love and dedication has always been to the live show. Combining his powerhouse vocals with a group of world class musicians, André makes it a priority to always give the audience an exciting, intense, and memorable musical experience. The connection between the musicians, the song, and the audience is always the ultimate goal.
Anne Connor, President of Blues & Roots Radio said, "It was a great pleasure meeting André again and handing over this well deserved recognition for all the hard work that he puts into his craft of songwriting, arranging and recording, we've been fans for a number of years, and that has been validated by the panel of judges this year."
André said, “It is a true honour to be receiving this award. Thank you to everyone involved. Songwriting can be a very daunting process. Sometimes it is very difficult to know if you are making any progress. With the support and confidence of others, I am given reassurance to pick up the pen and continue to do the thing that I love most. Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!”
A full list of finalists and winners can be found HERE
A big congratulations to André, please check out his music, and that of the other artists, find out where they are playing this year at their links below.
Stevie Connor is originally from Scotland, for the last 16 years he has been based just outside of Toronto in the GTA.
He is a recorded artist having contributed to more than twenty albums in the past, ranging from rock to folk and Celtic music. He is a top class piper and plays guitar and whistles, his original compositions have been recorded and played by other artists.
He is the founder and editor of The Sound Cafe Magazine and co-founder of Blues and Roots Radio, he has written in the past for Blues and Roots Radio (Canada), Great Dark Wonder (USA), Fatea Magazine (UK) and Music World Media (Australia). Stevie has contributed his many years of experience as a respected juror for the JUNO Awards, The Canadian Folk Music Awards, and the Maple Blues Awards in Canada.
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