January 27, 2012
Jimmy Rankin Leads The Way (ECMA Nominations)

December 3, 2009
ECMA Visual Artist of the year Nomination

February 10, 2009
Cheryl Smith.success: Cape Breton webmaster
nominated for two ECMA Awards in Newfoundland

December 23, 2008
Cape Breton well represented in ECMA industry award nominations

May 22, 2008
Women in Business Award Nomination

May 6, 2008
Cape Breton Live: 'Take 02' Compilation CD featuring 14 live tracks released May 1st.

January 16, 2008
2008 East Coast Music & Industry Award Nominees Announced

February 13, 2007
Putting designs on music. Port Hawkesbury designer up for 3rd consecutive ECMA award

February 27, 2006
ECMAs Honours Those Behind The Scenes

August 10, 2005
Cape Breton Live Radio Press Release

February 2005
Cheryl Smith wins ECMA Award

July 2004
Webmaster to The Stars

September 3, 2003
Cheryl Smith: Traditional Music and Modern Technology Merge For Website Designer


January 27, 2012
Jimmy Rankin leads the way
By Laura Jean Grant - Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — Jimmy Rankin chose last year’s East Coast Music Week to release his latest solo album, and this year he’ll return as the top nominee with a shot at a whopping eight awards.

Pick any major category for the upcoming East Coast Music Association’s music awards, and you’ll find the Mabou native’s name there. Rankin is nominated for entertainer of the year; album of the year, country recording of the year, and solo recording of the year for his album “Forget About the World;” songwriter of the year and song of the year for the album’s first big hit “Here in My Heart,” and two video of the year nods for “Here in My Heart” and “I’m Just Saying.”

Rankin, currently on a tour of western Canada with The Rankin Family, said he heard the news first thing Friday morning.

“I was asleep on our tour bus here out in British Columbia and the first thing when I got out of bed somebody said ‘congratulations, you just received eight nominations,’ and then they made a joke about me. It was a nice surprise waking up to that, it doesn’t happen every day,” he said.

Rankin said he’s pleased the album has been so well received by fans and the music industry.

“A year has gone by and here it is, I’m up for eight nominations so it’s always really a nice pat on the back to be acknowledged for your work,” he said. “I know it’s a good record. I really put a lot into it and it’s full of great songs. There’s a lot of collaboration with different people in the writing, and the production side of things and great musicianship.”

The ECMA announced all music and industry award nominees Friday morning at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton, which is the city set to host East Coast Music Week, April 11-15.

Matt Andersen, who now has Cape Breton ties having lived on the island for a couple of years, is nominated for five awards — entertainer of the year, video of the year for “Fired Up,” and album of the year, blues recording of the year, and solo recording of the year for “Coal Mining Blues.”

Carmen Townsend, who had a big year in 2011, is nominated for her first two ECMAs in the rising star recording of the year and rock recording of the year categories, for her debut album “Waitin’ and Seein’.”

“I’m pretty excited. It’s always nice to get that recognition. I’m still really grateful to be invited to perform there, almost every year since I started with my solo rock show,” she said. “It’s great to be in good company and I’m really looking forward to spending time in Moncton because we always have a great time there.”

Townsend said the annual ECMA event has been an important stepping stone in her career.

“That’s how we got to go to Australia. It was quite funny, because you never know who’s going to come in to see you play or what venue you’re going to be at, and we were in a legion in Corner Brook at the ECMAs and a bunch of Australian delegates came and they said ‘we want you in Australia,’ so that’s one of the many perks to the ECMAs,” she said.

Keith Mullins, a native of Sydney, is also in the running for rising star recording honours, and world recording of the year for “Localmotive Farm;” and children’s recording of the year with Thom Swift for “Keith Mullins/Thom Swift Youth Song Project.”

North River’s Angelo Spinazzola is nominated for roots/traditional solo recording of the year for his fifth album “Beautifully Imperfect,” and for children’s recording of the year for “First Nations Songwriting Sessions with Angelo Spinazzola.”

Gordie Sampson is among the contenders for solo recording of the year and country recording of the year for “Almost Beautiful,” and Scott Macmillan is nominated for DVD of the year and classical recording of the year for “Within Sight of Shore”

Other Cape Bretoners receiving single nominations were John Campbelljohn in blues recording of the year for “Celtic Blues,” Carleton Stone in pop recording of the year for his self-titled release, Kenneth and Angus MacKenzie in roots/traditional group recording of the year for their debut effort “Pìob is Fidheall,” and Madison Violet in folk recording of the year for “The Good in Goodbye.”

Fewer industry awards in 2012

SYDNEY — Several Cape Breton music professionals and businesses are in the running for East Coast Music Association industry awards.

Cheryl Smith has been nominated for graphic/media artist of the year, and 101.5 The Hawk in Port Hawkesbury, the East Coast Countdown (hosted by Cape Breton native Jimmie Inch), and CBC Radio Mainstreet Cape Breton host Wendy Bergfeldt have been nominated in media outlet/contributor of the year. Sydney-based Marcato Digital Solutions is up for retail/company of the year.

There are big changes ahead for the industry awards side of East Coast Music Week, as the ECMA has cut, by more than half, the number of industry awards it will hand out in 2012.

In 2011 the association gave out 14 industry awards, but just six awards are set to be presented in 2012, as the ECMA has combined a number of former categories into fewer, more general categories.

For example, the live sound technician of the year, producer of the year, studio engineer of the year, and studio of the year categories have been eliminated and brought under one audio professional of the year category.

It’s a move that upset several Cape Breton music professionals including Lakewind Sound Studio’s Fred Lavery and Mike Sheppard, and Soundpark Studio’s Jamie Foulds, who spoke out about their concerns with the changes last fall and opted not to submit their work for award consideration this year. The three men and the two recording studios were perennial favourites in various industry award categories.

December 3, 2009
ECMA Visual Artist of the year Nomination

The 2010 East Coast Music Award Nominations were announced yesterday and I'm very pleased to have received a nomination in the "Visual Artist of The Year" category.

Special congratulations goes out to OutFront Productions clients Andrea Beaton (Instrumental Recording of the Year) and Joey Kitson (Folk Recording of the Year), on their nominations!

The Industry Awards will be presented at the Industry Brunch on Friday, March 5th, at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre in Sydney, Cape Breton. The music awards will be presented at the Awards Gala, which will take place at Centre 200 in Sydney on Sunday, March 7.

Click here for a complete list of music and industry nominations or visit www.ecma.ca

February 10, 2009
Cheryl Smith.success: Cape Breton webmaster
nominated for two ECMA Awards in Newfoundland

LAURA JEAN GRANT, The Cape Breton Post

CREIGNISH — Like so many successful entrepreneurs Cheryl Smith started small and used word of mouth to build a booming business. An established webmaster, Smith has a portfolio of more than 50 websites that she designed, manages, or both. But it was a single website project that got things rolling for the Creignish resident more than 10 years ago.

“I just started doing it for a hobby, basically, and then I got to know Natalie MacMaster’s manager at the time and he kind of liked what I was doing and asked me if I would like to do her official website, which was a great client to start off with. I said ‘sure’,” she recalled. “I think Kendra MacGillivray was the next one who saw Natalie’s website and asked me to do hers and it kind of went from there and became a full-time thing and it’s been going good ever since.”

And the music industry has taken notice. Smith, and her company Outfront Productions Inc., has several East Coast Music Award nominations and two wins in the graphic design of the year category, over the past few years. She’s nominated in that category again this year along with CHR!S SM!TH — funkfactor, evul design, Jessica Rhaye Design, Shehab Illyas, and fellow Cape Bretoner Mike Shepherd’s Sheppy/Blazed Media Designs. She’s also the woman behind fiddler Kimberley Fraser’s website (www.kimberleyfraser.com), which is up for the website of the year award. All awards will be presented during the ECMA awards weekend in Corner Brook, N.L. Feb. 26 to March 1.

“It’s great and it’s good for publicity too, I guess. It gets your name out there,” said Smith, of the nominations. “Every year you never know if you’re going to get it or not so it’s always nice to see your name alongside all these other people. I mean there’s some great designers there.”
With no formal training in the field of graphic design, Smith has taken a learn-as-you-go approach to her career.

“I’m still learning every day. Especially now, there’s new stuff coming up all the time you have to keep up with,” she said. “I read a lot of design blogs and website related stuff. Sometimes a client will ask you for something that you’ve never heard of and you quickly look it up and make it happen.”

Smith estimates 90 per cent of her clients are involved in the music industry including musicians themselves, as well as venues and festivals. Her client list includes Rita MacNeil, the Barra MacNeils, Mary Jane Lamond, Troy MacGillivray, Jerry Holland and dozens more.

A musician herself, Smith said she knows many of the artists on a personal level, which she said likely helps in her business.

“I’m sure it helps,” she said. “It also helps keep you in the loop too. You stay in touch with who’s in the music business and who is releasing a new CD and that sort of thing”

While most of her onstage appearances are limited to the summertime, Smith will be playing drums in a few performances with Troy MacGillivray, as well as Andrea Beaton, during the ECMA awards weekend later this month.

December 23, 2008
Cape Breton well represented in ECMA industry award nominations
The Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — Cape Breton’s music professionals are well-represented on this year’s East Coast Music Association’s industry awards nomination list. Darren Gallop leads the way for the island with nominations for industry professional of the year and manager of the year; while his recording label, Company House Records, is also nominated in two categories — independent company of the year, and record company/distributor/independent label of the year.

Industry nominations were announced Tuesday in Corner Brook, NL, where the 2009 ECMAs will take place Feb. 26-March 1. The industry awards will be handed out at the FACTOR Industry Awards Brunch March 1 at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook.

Ten other Cape Breton individuals and companies are nominated in various industry award categories. Cheryl Smith, Fred Lavery, Mike ‘Sheppy’ Shepherd, Sheppy/Blazed Media Designs, CKOA-FM The Coast 89.7 Cape Breton, Lakewind Sound Studio, Membertou Trade & Convention Centre, the Cape Breton Christmas Daddies Telethon, and both Gordie Sampson and Kimberley Fraser’s websites are all nominees for this year’s awards.

“Although industry professionals aren’t usually in the spotlight, they most definitely deserve to be recognized and appreciated for all of their hard work,” said Wade Pinhorn, chair of the board of directors for the ECMA, in a release. “These amazing individuals and businesses persevere relentlessly to ensure East Coast music is on the map, loud and proud. We couldn’t do it without them.”

The full list of ECMA 2009 Industry Award nominees:

Broadcast of the Year
Cape Breton Christmas Daddies Telethon (CB)
East Coast Countdown (NS)
East Coast Road Trip (NS)
Route 104-Q104 (NS)
That East Coast Show (NS)

Event of the Year
Festival of Small Halls (PE)
Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (NB)
Libertango (NS)
Riverfest 2008 (NS)
The Indian River Festival (PE)

Graphic Designer of the Year
Cheryl Smith - OutFront Productions Inc. (CB)
Chris Smith - funkfactor (NS)
evul design (NS)
Jessica Rhaye Design (NB)
Shehab Illyas (NS)
Sheppy/Blazed Media Designs (CB)

Independent Company of the Year
Company House Records Inc. (CB)
MMS Atlantic (NL)
Music Marketing International Inc "MMII" (NS)
Sonic Entertainment Group (NS)
SONG HUT Digital Media Distribution Service (NS)

CARAS Industry Professional of the Year
Darren Gallop (CB)
Fred Lavery (CB)
Lynn Daigle (NB)
Robert Buck (NL)

Live Sound Technician of the Year
Carl Gosine (NS)
Dennis Field (NS)
Stéphane Déraspe (NS)

Delta Hotels Manager of the Year
Bruce Morel (NS)
Darren Gallop (CB)
James Steel (NB)
Jason Burns (NS)
Jeff Liberty (NB)

Media Person of the Year
Doug Gallant (PE)
Jimmie Inch (CB)
Marc Xavier LeBlanc (NB)
Tom Bedell (NS)

Photographer of the Year
Chris Smith - funkfactor (NS)
kelly clark fotography (NS)
Marc Xavier LeBlanc / Studiograph (NB)
Sarah DeVenne (NS)
Shehab Illyas Photography (NS)

FACTOR Radio Station of the Year - Major Market
Q104 Halifax (NS)
XL96 Moncton (NB)
Z103.5 The Beat of Halifax (CKHZ-FM) (NS)

FACTOR Radio Station of the Year - Small Market
CKEC - East Coast FM 94.1 (NS)
CKOA-FM The Coast 89.7 CapeBreton (CB)
Seaside FM (NS)

Record Company / Distributor / Independent Label of the Year
Company House Records Inc. (CB)
Forward Music Group (NB)
Halflife Records (NS)
Sonic Records (NS)
Warner Music Canada (NS)

Retailer of the Year
Back Alley Music, Charlottetown (PE)
CD Plus (NS)
Taz Records, Halifax (NS)

Studio of the Year
Big GreySound Studio (PE)
Denmark Productions Recording Studio (NS)
Guernsey Cove Parlour Productions (PE)
Lakewind Sound Studios (CB)
The Sonic Temple (NS)

Studio Engineer of the Year
Dennis Field (NS)
Jon Matthews (PE)
Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd (CB)
Stéphane Déraspe (NS)

Venue of the Year
Membertou Trade & Convention Centre (CB)
St. Mary's Church, Indian River (PE)
The Fredericton Playhouse (NB)
The Guild, Charlottetown (PE)

Website of the Year
www.bette-wallet.com (NS)
www.dav-net.com (NL)
www.gordiesampson.com (CB)
www.jessicarhaye.com (NB)
www.kimberleyfraser.com (CB)

May 22, 2008
Women in Business Award Nomination

Cheryl has received a nomination for "Marketer of The Year" from Cape Breton Partnership’s Women in Business Awards.

The Marketer of the Year Award is presented to a female entrepreneur or business leader with a distinctive achievement in developing unique and innovative methods to promote and build her business.

The 1st Annual Women in Business Awards will take place at the Inverary Resort in Baddeck on May 29th. It will be hosted by Air Farce’s Jessica Holmes with entertainment by Raylene Rankin.

For more information, visit the Cape Breton Partnership website.

May 6, 2008
Cape Breton Live: 'Take 02' Compilation CD featuring
14 live tracks released May 1st.

After the success of the "Take 01" CD, the Cape Breton Live team has released a second compilation CD featuring 14 live tracks from various Cape Breton Live shows. The recording includes tracks recorded live at square dances, concerts, pubs and house parties and showcases some of the finest players in the Cape Breton traditional style. The CD was produced by Cheryl Smith and Andrea Beaton
Featured on the recording are unique live performances by: Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy, Buddy MacMaster, Brenda Stubbert, Kimberley Fraser, Kinnon Beaton, Betty Beaton, Kenneth MacKenzie, Jackie Dunn MacIsaac, Wendy MacIsaac, Howie MacDonald, Troy MacGillivray, Doug MacPhee, Jeff MacDonald, Mary Jane Lamond, Andrea Beaton, Cheryl Smith, Ian MacDougall, Mac Morin, Jerry Holland, Carl MacKenzie, Ryan J. MacNeil, Marion Dewar, Dave MacIsaac and more...

Cape Breton Live was born in 2005 as a joint venture of Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy and Cheryl Smith. The online radio program began with the intent of broadcasting 5 trial shows of live traditional music showcasing the talents of Cape Breton musicians. The initial run of shows were so well received worldwide that the program has now been online for over 2 years, has broadcast close to 50 shows, toured Quebec and Ontario and released 2 compilation CD's. 

The CD is available online at: www.capebretonlive.com and will be made available in local stores shortly. Track listing and sound clips are also available online.


January 16, 2008
2008 East Coast Music & Industry Award Nominees Announced

The East Coast Music Association has announced the 2008 Music and Industry Award nominees in Fredericton. The Industry Awards will be handed out on Sunday, February 10th, prior to the Music Awards Gala at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton, NB. Congratulations to all nominees, especially the following OutFront Productions clients:

» Cheryl Smith (OutFront Productions Inc.) - Graphic Designer of the Year
» Savoy Theatre - Venue of The Year
» Troy MacGillivray (Live At The Music Room) - Instrumental Recording of the Year
» Kimberley Fraser (Falling On New Ground) - Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year
» Leanne Aucoin (All Set) - Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year
» Grand Dérangement (Live) - Francophone Recording of the Year
» Jimmy Rankin (Edge of Day) - Country Recording of the Year
» Jimmy Rankin (Edge of Day) - Factor Recording of The Year
» Jimmy Rankin (Edge of Day) - Male Solo Recording of The Year
» Jimmy Rankin (Slipping Away) - SOCAN Songwriter of the Year

For a complete list of nominees, visit www.ecma.ca


February 13, 2007
Putting designs on music.

Port Hawkesbury designer up for third consecutive ECMA award
By Andrea Nemetz, Halifax Herald

Photo: Grant MartinFor a fledging web designer and drummer steeped in the Irish tradition, there couldn’t be a better first client than Natalie MacMaster.

Cheryl Smith, the ECMA winner in 2005 and 2006 for graphic designer of the year and a nominee for the same award at the 2007 ECMA industry awards, was introduced to the Cape Breton fiddling sensation through MacMaster’s then-manager Andre Bourgeouis.

At the time, Smith, blessed with an abundance of curiosity, was just trying to figure out how to design a website. The Montreal native, who was working at the International Air Transport Association in the computer field, knew nothing about graphic design. She taught herself HTML and then delved into graphics.

"I was just curious about how the web worked," she says from Port Hawkesbury, where she now lives and runs OutFront Productions Inc., which has more than 100 clients.

"Anyone can put up a website, but whether it’s attractive or not…a lot of that depends on graphics," she explains.

She didn’t realize her design efforts were public until Bourgeois stumbled upon one of her prototypes.

"He thought what I did was really good and came to Montreal to meet me."

Later that year, 1999, Smith was doing the website for the Grammy-nominated Troy musician, who now makes her home in Ontario with her husband Donnell Leahy and her daughter Mary Francis.

Over time Smith’s web design clients grew to include Rita MacNeil, Bruce Guthro, The Ennis Sisters, The Cottars, Mary Jane Lamond, The Barra MacNeils, Kendra MacGillivray, Grand Derangement, Mir and Jimmy Rankin. She also has done websites for businesses like Glenora Distillery and the Sunset Folk Art Gallery.

Because so many of her clients are based in Cape Breton, it only made sense to head east from Montreal. And living in Cape Breton gave Smith a chance to indulge in her other passion – playing the drums.

"I’ve been playing since I was 12. My father was a drummer and there were always drum kits around the house."

Her father played with a Montreal rock ’n’ roll band called the Beau-Marks but was thrilled when she became involved in the Irish music scene in Montreal as he’s of Scottish heritage. The interest in Irish music naturally extended to Cape Breton-style traditional music and Smith performs regularly at gigs throughout the province.

"I mostly play in Mabou, Port Hood and Inverness with people like Andrea Beaton, Shelly Campbell and Troy MacGillivray. When Natalie (MacMaster) is home I sometimes play snare drum with her."

In November, Smith did a month-long tour of Ontario with Cape Breton Live. Andrea Beaton played fiddle and piano, Troy MacGillivray played piano, fiddle, accordion, and bass, Glenn Graham played fiddle, Howie MacDonald played fiddle, piano and guitar, Kate Quinn did vocals, Buddy MacDonald played guitar and joined in on vocals as well as hosting the show, described as a kitchen party on stage.

Bravo TV even recorded one of the shows, a live version of the Internet radio show of the same name started by MacMaster and Leahy in August 2005, featuring live performances from Cape Breton house parties, dance halls, pubs, bars and theatres with well known and up-and-coming musicians. The show has also spawned a CD Cape Breton Live.

Fortunately when she’s on the road she can keep up with urgent business through her laptop.

Smith uses PCs and Photoshop to create her websites and is familiar with most of her clients and their music before she begins work on their sites.

"I like to match the music and the person," she says. "I’m not going to do something grungy for someone singing pop," she says.

Also nominated three times for Visual Artist of the Year by the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia, she’s particularly proud of being awarded the 2005 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Junior Chamber of Commerce’s annual Outstanding Young Leaders Awards.

"It recognizes your business skills as well as your graphic design skills."

Being nominated for an ECMA never loses its thrill.

"Every year I think I’m not going to get nominated. There are a lot of good designers and I don’t expect to be nominated or to win, but it’s always nice to be nominated."

This year, when the industry awards are handed out on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at the World Trade and Convention Centre, Smith will be competing against Chris Smith of funkfactor, Jason ‘evul’ Otis of Evul Otis Design, Michael Shepherd and Scott McIntyre of Blazed Media Designs and Neil Gascoyne of VibeCreative Group.

Winning the award has helped her get her name out in the community and she often has to turn down potential clients.

"I have five new sites I’m working on right now," she says noting some people are willing to wait for a break in her schedule. Right now, she’d like to hire another designer, but it’s a matter of finding someone with the right skill set.

In the last year or two she’s begun designing CDs. She’s designed Troy MacGillivray’s latest album Eleven, Natalie and Buddy MacMaster’s joint release and did the artwork for the Cape Breton Live CD among others.

A keen reader, she subscribes to a lot of design magazines though most are oriented more to print work than web design. She’s currently reading Summer Sisters by Judy Blume and Psychology for Dummies. "I really like psychology texts," she notes.

Smith will be in Halifax for the ECMAs where she plans on taking in the Roots Room Showcases.

"I don't do much work at the ECMAs, I just like to catch up with people and take in as much as I can," she concludes.

Photo: Cheryl Smith holds her 2006 East Coast Music Award for graphic designer. The Port Hawkesbury-based designer also won the award in 2005 and is nominated again this year. The awards will be handed out on Sunday. (PHOTO: GRANT MARTIN)


February 27, 2006
ECMAs Honours Those Behind The Scenes
By Stephen Cooke - Halifax Herald

WHILE IT’S THE stars of the Atlantic Canadian music scene who will be honoured tonight at the East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown, on Sunday night the names behind the scenes were lauded for their efforts in keeping the music biz wheels rolling at the ECMA Industry Awards.

The evening event in the Delta Prince Edward ballroom also continued the annual tradition of honouring the unsung heroes of the region, at the Stompin’ Tom Awards, which were announced prior to the ceremony.

Hosted by P.E.I. Acadian comedy duo Chuck & Albert, the dinner affair included performances by Joel Plaskett with producer and former Big Sugar guitarist Gordie Johnson of his footstomping new song Can I Go Nowhere With You, P.E.I. Celtic singer Patricia Murray, and Newfoundland bard Ron Hynes, who got the room laughing with a witty Nancy White number about digital copyright infringement.

This year saw a wide array of industry insiders credited for their efforts over the past year.

In what has also become an annual tradition, Halifax-based show biz powerhouse Sonic Entertainment Group went home with a couple of awards, namely independent company of the year, and manager of the year for its founder Louis Thomas, for guiding the careers of acts like Great Big Sea, Matt Mays & El Torpedo, The Novaks and now his newest signing, Halifax independent rockers Wintersleep, who will be appearing on the live ECMA broadcast tonight from the Charlottetown Civic Centre.

"Thanks to everyone who’s supported our collective group of companies," said Thomas from the podium which he shared with wife and Sonic publicist Wendy Phillips. "I’m glad the company won this award, because over the years it’s come to mean more than just a manager and publicist."

The evening’s other multiple winner was CBC Radio, which picked up trophies for major market radio station of the year and for Atlantic Airwaves as broadcast of the year.

"This goes to all the musicians and the musical community," said Atlantic Airwaves producer Glenn Meisner. "Because of them I’m fortunate to have a job a passion, really in this community called the East Coast.

"It’s shown me some of the greatest talent I’ve ever worked with."

Cheryl Smith (photo: Grant W. Martin Photography)Regionally, Cape Breton had a strong showing with five awards going to island entities like East Coast Countdown producer Jack Bonaparte for industry professional of the year, Celtic Colours International Festival for event of the year, OutFront Productions’ Cheryl Smith for graphic designer of the year, longtime champ Lakewind Sound in Point Aconi for studio of the year and Sound Park Studio’s Jamie Foulds for technician/engineer of the year.

"I’m very delighted," exclaimed Celtic Colours co-founder Joella Foulds from the stage. "So many people are involved and affected by this event, I don’t know where to begin.

"There’s our board of directors, 50 community groups and 1,000 volunteers, without them we couldn’t make it happen."

For a sharp slice of irony, there was the bittersweet victory of former Halifax Daily News music scribe Sandy MacDonald in the media person of the year category.

MacDonald was recently laid off by the paper along with other experienced hands, after over a decade of covering the East Coast Music scene from stem to stern with a fine balance of wit and expertise.

MacDonald took time out to acknowledge his fellow daily newspaper writers who cover the ECMAs every year, noting

"they bring thousands and thousands of readers to the event through their stories. It’s been a great ride, see you in Halifax next year."

Halifax-based Kelly Clark was named photographer of the year for the fourth straight year for her fresh and funky approach to capturing music on film, while the annual industry builder award went to Musicstop founders Russ and Sharon Brannon.

Folklorist Clary Croft paid the couple a warm, nostalgic tribute via video, for over three decades of world quality music equipment sales, service and support to musicians from home and abroad.

"It’s amazing to have built this business over 35 years,"said Russ Brannon. "And to have been married to my business partner for 35 years. We should get an award for that too!"

Honours for Prince Edward Islanders came in the form of the small market radio station of the year award for Charlottetown’s CFCY, and the musician’s achievement award, a surprise award that pays tribute to those crucial support players, usually from the host region.

This year it was P.E.I. native Chris Corrigan, whose guitar skills have graced records and performances by the likes of Lennie Gallant, Rita MacNeil, Mary Jane Lamond, Natalie MacMaster and Nathan Wiley.

The sole Newfoundland winner was St. John’s-based music company Landwash Distribution, while Fredericton’s The Playhouse won its first award for venue of the year.

The whole event was capped off in fine P.E.I. style by the traditional Acadian band Vishten, which played a rousing set of fiddle and accordion dance tunes.

A great deal of what goes on at the East Coast Music Awards and Conference is about spreading music far and wide, and and looking outwards toward getting Atlantic Canadian performers and their recordings into untapped corners of the world.

But earlier in the day, there was a plea for musicians and music industry figures to look inward, and find the strength to use their talents toward making the world a better place.

Gerry Barr, co-chair of the Canadian Make Poverty History campaign (www.makepovertyhistory.ca) and president of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation sparked the conscience of ECMA attendees by discussing the importance of music and its power for social change.

Citing chilling statistics like the fact that 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, and that every three seconds a child dies of poverty related illness, Barr also listed examples of songs that have helped make a difference in the world, from Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit to Bruce Cockburn’s If I Had a Rocket Launcher.

"Will a song with a message stay fresh for only a week, or become an anthem? All you can hope for is that someone will hear the message,"said Barr, who expressed his disdain for the concept of "charity rock."

"Maybe an event will be a one-shot deal, like George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, or the start of a grassroots movement, like Farm Aid. But as Bono said during the Live 8 concerts, "It’s not about charity, it’s about social justice.’ . . . When someone is living in poverty, that means they’re being denied their basic rights."

The session also featured two new songs performed by Halifax global pop band MIR, whose members recently returned from a trip to see the progress of post-tsunami rebuilding in Sri Lanka.

"The implementation of aid is a huge, huge task, and we’ve learned from a variety of organizations how difficult it is," said the band’s singer-songwriter Asif Illyas.

"There are people still living in tents because their land is represented by the opposition parties. . . . We’ve learned the difference between financial well-being and emotional well-being. The people there have a lot of resilience."


August 10, 2005


CAPE BRETON, NS – Well-known Canadian performing artists Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are pleased to announce the launch of Cape Breton Live, a new internet radio show, which will broadcast a series of live musical events from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia each week.

In a trial five week period, the radio program will showcase artists both new and familiar, exposing the traditional music of Cape Breton to audiences around the globe. Recorded at popular music venues around Nova Scotia – from halls, to pubs, to kitchens – the shows will capture the sights and sounds of the traditional Cape Breton ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lee”, Gaelic for party or gathering).

Long one of Canada’s national treasures, Cape Breton Island is known for both its natural beauty and unique culture. The Island is home to a distinctive musical legacy derived from the Scottish and Irish immigrants who brought their music to the island where it evolved naturally. The recent surge of interest in the music of Cape Breton from around the world has been the catalyst for the creation of Cape Breton Live.

"We are aware of the strong attraction of Cape Breton music and culture to people, as we are constantly being told by the fans who frequent our shows,” says Natalie MacMaster. "It excites people and stays with them long after they leave. So, we thought, if you can’t get here in person, join us on the Web."

MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, the lead fiddle player of Canadian Celtic supergroup Leahy, were married in 2002 and are together launching the Cape Breton Live project as a platform for the musical community they belong to, and from which they draw inspiration.

"It is an effort to share the music and culture of Cape Breton with the rest of the world," says Leahy, "and our hope is that the beauty that lives here will be felt through this program."

This project is made possible with the assistance of Aliant and the Government of Nova Scotia. The first live audio broadcast on capebretonlive.com will be on September 4, 2005, featuring Natalie & Buddy MacMaster with Betty Lou Beaton.

Aliant will also stream these Cape Breton Live performances through www.aliant.net, giving music fans one more way to connect to Cape Breton’s down-home music. Video from these performances will be available exclusively to Aliant high-speed customers.

"Cape Breton is more than great scenery and hospitable people. It’s an energetic spirit that is shared so well through our talented musicians,” said Mike Gillespie, Aliant Regional Manager for Cape Breton. "As a Cape Breton native, I’m very pleased that Aliant can play a role in this innovative venture to share our music and our spirit with people around the world."

To be present at a recording session for Cape Breton Live, please check out www.capebretonlive.com for a list of dates, venues and performers.

Listen weekly to the Cape Breton Live sessions by going to www.capebretonlive.com.

For further information, please contact:
Cheryl Smith, Producer


February 2005

Cheryl Smith has won the 2005 ECMA 'Graphic Designer of the Year' award at the East Coast Music Awards. Congratulations to all the other winners. The 2006 ECMA's will take place in Charlottetown, PEI.


JULY 2004
Webmaster to The Stars
by Allison Lawlor (Progress Magazine)

When Rita MacNeil released her 20th album earlier this year, Cheryl Smith was hard at work at her computer. The Cape Breton-based graphic designer was busy retooling MacNeil’s website with fresh pictures, creating MP3 sound clips, and posting new content.

MacNeil isn't Smith's only high-profile client, but she was one of her first. For close to three years, Smith has been designing and maintaining the popular singer's website along with a long list of other Nova Scotian musicians’ sites. 

Smith owns and runs OutFront Productions from her home in Port Hawkesbury. Since starting her business about four years ago, she has become one of the most sought-after Graphic Designers in the province. Last year her business more than doubled in size. She now has close to 90 clients, about 80% of whom are musicians.

A musician herself, Smith has designed websites for the Ennis Sisters, Jimmy Rankin, and Natalie MacMaster. In fact, she credits her love of MacMaster's music for getting her started back in 1999. Curious about web design, the Montreal-born Smith decided to teach herself by creating an unofficial website for MacMaster. After experimenting with designs and learning the technical side of web creation. About a month later, the phone rang: It was MacMaster's manager. He liked what he saw and wanted to know if Smith would be interested in designing the Cape Breton fiddler's official site. "She was a really good first client to have because of her high profile" says Smith.

Before long other Nova Scotian musicians started calling. For the first year, Smith kept her day job and did web design part-time from her Montreal home. But more clients kept approaching her, and in 2000 she quit her job and moved to Halifax to work full-time at the business. The following year she moved to Port Hawkesbury on Cape Breton Island, where most of her clients are from. "I don’t do much advertising," says Smith. "It’s all been word of mouth."

Smith designs each website using original graphics and layout to reflect the artist's or company's image. Her sites include music sound clips, photos, news updates, interactive fan-message boards, and online music purchasing. Smith’s work is receiving a lot of industry attention; in 2002 she received the Golden Web Award for design from the International Association of Webmasters and Designers. She also has been nominated for both Graphic Designer of the Year by the East Coast Music Association and for Web Designer of the Year by the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia. 


Cheryl Smith: Traditional Music and Modern Technology
Merge For Website Designer
by Frank Macdonald (The Inverness Oran)

For Montreal born musician, Cheryl Smith, merging her love for Cape Breton music with her curiosity about the world wide web has led to a new career and the means to live on the right side of the Canso Causeway.

The daughter of a drummer, Cheryl, too, became a percussionist, playing with a rock band as early as age 14, and becoming a member of an all-girl band, Moonshadow, which toured through Quebec and Ontario. Despite her rock experience, Smith's choice of music was the Irish musicians she was exposed to at home, and of which there is no lack in the diverse musical offerings of Montreal. From listening to the Irish, it was inevitable that the overlapping nature of Celtic music would soon bring the distinct fiddle styles of Cape Breton's into Cheryl's life, and that exposure, it turned out, was life-changing.

"It was because of Natalie," Smith explains. She had become a fan of the internationally popular Troy fiddler, Natalie MacMaster. In 1999, Cheryl was also curious about website design and decided to teach herself by trying to make a model website. "I was trying to learn web design, just as a hobby, so I decided to make a website for Natalie."

It was an experimental design, something to put out front of the codes and other mysterious rules that are the standard behind-the-scenes engine of every website. Once she had mastered the technical end, Smith created a Natalie MacMaster website.

Not soon after the website was online, she received a call from Natalie MacMaster's manager who had been surfing the web and came across Smith's creation. The call didn't concern copyright issues or whatever other artistic violations may or may not have been part of Cheryl's self-taught art form. What the management company was more interested in was learning whether or not Cheryl was interested in a contract to design the official Natalie MacMaster website… She was.

Natalie came to visit Cheryl in Montreal to talk about the website and, Cheryl jokes, to be sure she wasn't just some crazy fan. The two women began a professional relationship that soon, and probably more important to each of them, became a close friendship. Cheryl began visiting Cape Breton Island, welcomed by MacMaster's parents, Alex and Minnie.

A job opportunity opened up for Cheryl with Alfred Larter in Halifax, who was then Natalie MacMaster's production manager. But she was also the person who designed Natalie MacMaster's website, which interested other Cape Breton musicians who had visited the site and liked what they saw. In a relatively short time, Smith was accumulating a clientele of Cape Breton musicians who wanted her designs to grace their own websites.

Mac Morin, Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton, Kendra MacGillivray, Rita MacNeil, Slàinte Mhath, Jerry Holland, Beolach, Scott MacMillan, Pius MacIsaac, Mary Jane Lamond, the Accents, and others all approached Smith about designing and maintaining websites for them.

Soon, she was able to cross the Causeway for more than just a visit. She took her business to where the bulk of her clients were, settling in Port Hawkesbury where she lives and operates OutFront Productions from an office in her home. Nor is her work restricted solely to the service of Cape Breton performers. She has also designed and maintains sites for the soaring Ennis Sister of Newfoundland, PEI fiddling phenom, Timothy Chaisson, and country star, Hal Bruce. And sites are currently being created for fiddler Wendy MacIsaac, and Cheryl has secured her first European client, the Celtic group Daimh (pronounced "Dive"), playing out of Scotland.

The development of each site begins with a talk with the musician to get a sense of what his or her expectations are, and what should be reflected on the site. Usually, site design changes come with a musician's release of another recording, and Smith enhances the existing site to mirror that development.

Busy as it seems, Cheryl hasn't forsaken her own music for her new career. Her drum kit sits in the corner of her living room, easy to access whenever she wants to play along with friends or maybe even a recording selected from her massive collection of Cape Breton music. And Natalie MacMaster rarely performs here at home without including in her band Cheryl Smith with her snare drum and brushes.

Cheryl performs most frequently with West Bay Road fiddler Shelly Campbell, and joined Shelly and pianist Amanda MacDougall for an opening act to the release this past Saturday at the Marquee Club in Halifax for Jimmy Rankin's newest recording, "Handmade". She also performed during the making of the first video from Rankin's new collection, "Morning Bound Train".

There have been offers to go on tour with some of the musicians she knows, but Cheryl has made her professional choice and that is to provide support for other musicians not from behind a drum kit, but from the still to many of us mysterious electronic network known as the world wide web.

"I love to play music whenever I can. My late father was a drummer in a '60s band, but I don't want to tour extensively anymore."

A tour of the sites created by Cheryl Smith demonstrates why the relative newcomer to this burgeoning art form has already received two nominations for Graphic Designer of the Year, and has been twice nominated for Web Designer of the Year by the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia. Each site is as original as that first site that caught the attention of Natalie MacMaster's managing company, and started Cheryl Smith on a new path.

In fact, her designs have caught the interest of a clientele far beyond the musicians whose careers she chronicles in the pages of OutFront Productions. Mabou Coal Mines visual artist, Peter Rankin has his paintings internationally accessible through OutFront Productions, as does the Savoy Theatre, several music publishing companies, and a growing list of Cape Breton tourism businesses.

In her latest branching out in the field of designs, Cheryl Smith has created the artwork for two CD's released this summer, Kinnon Beaton's "Eoghan Dubh" and Troy MacGillivray's "Boomerang", as well as other print materials.

Designing and maintaining websites for clients is an ongoing commitment that keeps Cheryl fully occupied with the challenges and thrills of her art, and at the time of our interview the designer has come full circle, occupied as she is with redesigning Natalie MacMaster's website to reflect the tone of her anticipated fall release of "Blueprint".