Downtown Oshawa hosts a celebration of music from across Durham Region

Will McGuirk

You call it Durham or Clarington, that’s just its name, but it is the land that I love,” said Greg Keelor, co-founder of Blue Rodeo and the latest inductee into the 2022 Oshawa Music Awards Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame Award.

The Oshawa Music Awards (OMAs), which now celebrate music from across Durham Region, were handed out at the historic Biltmore Theatre in downtown Oshawa on September 29 at an in-person gala. It was the first in-person awards show for the OMAs, which celebrated five years of honouring the musicians, and members of the music industry, who are connected to Durham Region.

Keelor could not be present at this year’s OMAs, but accepted the award by video after a reel of tributes from such luminaries as singer and songwriter Ron Sexsmith, and Wayne Petti of the band Cuff the Duke from Oshawa.

Video greetings for all honourees were sent by Regional Chair and CEO of Durham Region, John Henry. The Region’s teams including Durham Tourism and Invest Durham supported the event. Oshawa’s Mayor, Dan Carter, also shared opening remarks to kick off the evening.

The 2022 Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame Award additionally honoured the Durham Girls’ Choir and rock band, Wednesday. Established in 1972, the Durham Girls’ Choir celebrated its golden anniversary this year and the award was accepted by current director, Kristine Dandavino. Wednesday were formed in Oshawa in the late 1960s. They went on to score a Billboard hit with ‘Last Kiss’ in 1974. Four members of Wednesday reunited to accept their award, presented by their former manager, John Driscoll.

The Industry Leader of the Year Award was presented to Hill Kourkoutis, who grew up in Greenwood. Kourkoutis had a big year, previously winning the 2022 Juno for Recording Engineer of the Year. She is the first woman to receive  recognition in the category. Kourkoutis continues to record in Durham Region, working with a diverse clientele, including last year’s OMAs host and double 2021 winner, Tania Joy. Joy was one of the performers at the Biltmore this year.

Performers also included Delon Om, who took home awards in all three categories. His music was nominated in Music Video of the Year, Producer of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year. Former member of Eleven Past One and 2020 and 2021 winner, Valdii, also performed.

The other winners of the night included Jadea Kelly for Single of the Year; Wayne Madder for Album of the Year; and Cameron Tania for Songwriter of the Year. The Music Teacher of the Year went to Emily Snellings, who gave a passionate speech urging greater resources for public music education, and The Durham Song of the Year was won by Gal George Gjurin.

The evening’s host, Lindsay Schoolcraft, won the award for Artist or Band of the Year, which she had previously won in 2021.

Learn more about the OMAs, past winners and sign-up for updates for 2023 by visiting their website: