Jully Black and K-os each received five Canadian Urban Music Award nominations Tuesday at a ceremony in Toronto where the focus was just as much on the genre's growth as it was on the music itself.
"There was a time when black artists couldn't get signed to a major label,'' said Michael Williams, a producer, radio host and former MuchMusic VJ as he announced the nominees at a press conference downtown.
"Today black artists . . . are doing it for themselves. It really has gotten better.''
The awards, now in their seventh year, are to be handed out over two nights in late November. The show will be hosted by comedian Russell Peters.
K-os is up for fan's choice, best songwriter, best hip-hop recording, producer of the year and best music video. Among Black's nominations are best new artist and best soul recording for her song, Sweat of Your Brow. Keshia Chante and Divine Brown each received four nominations.
"It's definitely important for me,'' said Ottawa-native Chante, who last year won three trophies.
"The urban community started off really small and it's been growing over the past 15 years. One day the urban scene is going to be just as big as rock in Canada.''
On the strength of his dance hit Let's Go, Toronto singer Shawn Desman received three nods. Double nominees included Ottawa singer Massari, Toronto rapper Rochester aka Juice, and Somalian poet- turned-rapper K'naan.
Two trailblazers are also to be recognized with special awards.
Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex, who started in the business as a concert promoter at age 15, is to receive a special achievement award.
Jazz drummer Archie Alleyne has played with numerous renowned singers including Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson and Mel Torme during a career that's spanned nearly 60 years.
"This is extremely important for me, the reason being it comes from my community,'' said the Toronto-born musician.
"After 56 years of being in this business it's nice to be recognized by your own community because I'm always recognized by everyone else. I really feel proud,'' Alleyne said.
Credit: Canadian Press
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