Dallas Smith cleans up at Canadian Country Music Awards on historic night

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Dallas Smith makes everything seem “timeless,” mainly because he’s always on the radio and always on the podium accepting awards.

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The Langley, BC native left London’s Budweiser Gardens on Monday the biggest winner of the Canadian Country Music Association awards night with three awards – Artist of the Year, Male Artist of the year and single of the year for Like a Man.

“I don’t know what I’m feeling, it’s a really weird feeling because we’ve been away for so long” because of the pandemic, Smith said.

“But I feel like we’re back, picking up where we left off and I’m really, really grateful.”

Drag queen Priyanka co-hosted the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Monday at Budweiser Gardens in London and also sang her new single Country Queen.  Mike Hensen / The London Free Press / Postmedia Network
Drag queen Priyanka co-hosted the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Monday at Budweiser Gardens in London and also sang her new single Country Queen. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press / Postmedia Network

It was a historic evening with drag queen Priyanka co-hosted with Lindsay Ell. They walked out singing a medley that included the cheeky tunes of Bonnie Raitt, Something to Talk About and Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman, clearly referencing Priyanka’s talents and attire.

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“Growing up, I never saw people like me on TV and I want to thank you very much for your acceptance and love,” Priyanka said during a break between awards shows.

“Country music is for everyone,” Ell said.

In an interview after the show, Priyanka was elated.

“I was pretty shocked, everyone loved me,” said Priyanka, real name Mark Suknanan.

“This fan gave me a rose and said, ‘Thank you for doing this for us.'”

True to her word, Priyanka went on to sing, dance and garner cheers as she performed her new single, Country Queen.

“I just want a crowd consensus here tonight… Am I a country queen or what?” she asked the enthusiastic crowd who responded with massive cheers and applause.

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The top prize of the night was for a group or duo and it was won by the Reklaws, Jenna and Stuart Walker, who arrived with six nominations but walked away with one award, their third CCMA victory since 2018.

“We’ve been nominated a lot and it’s huge, but winning is everything, it makes you want to cry,” said Jenna Walker.

“This has always been our dream, thank you very much,” said Stuart.

Dallas Smith stole the show and drew massive applause from the crowds at Budweiser Gardens throughout the night he kicked off with a performance playing his latest album, Hide From A Broken Heart.

Singer-songwriter Robyn Ottolini won the Rising Star award. She was the only woman nominated in the category.

Tenille Townes celebrates Monday at the Canadian Country Music Awards.  Townes won the award for Female Artist and Album of the Year.
Tenille Townes celebrates Monday at the Canadian Country Music Awards. Townes won the award for Female Artist and Album of the Year. “It really is such a dream tonight,” she told the crowd. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press / Postmedia Network

Female Artist of the Year, Tenille Townes rocked the stage with her captivating performance and emotionally thanked the crowd after the big win.

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“I’m so grateful for how music has brought us together this year. I love you Canada, ”she told the cheering crowd.

The evening also saw live performances by Tim Hicks, High Valley, Tenille Arts, Don Amero and Mackenzie Porter and Dustin Lynch.

Hicks rocked the crowd with her song No Truck which topped the charts last year with her album, Wreck This, followed by rising star winner Ottolini who kept the emotions going with her hit, F-150.

“I don’t believe it, it just doesn’t look real,” Ottolini said after the show.

Townes couldn’t hold back tears when she was declared Ford F-150 Album of the Year winner for The Lemonade Stand. It included two number 1 singles, Somebody’s Daughter and Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking).

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“It really is such a dream tonight,” she told the crowd of around 6,000.

“Thank you (the fans) for wrapping your arms around this album and listening to the music.”

Townes also won the Female Artist of the Year award for the third time in a row.

“It’s crazy, it’s so surreal,” said Townes, wearing a white pantsuit adorned with rhinestones.

“I’m so grateful. Making this album was like a dream, and what makes it so special is that people listen to it and make these songs a part of their lives.

The Reklaws won the Group or Duo of the Year award at the Canadian Country Music Association awards.  Jenna and Stuart Walker also closed the show with a performance of their hit song What the Truck with Sacha.  Mike Hensen / The London Free Press / Postmedia Network
The Reklaws won the Group or Duo of the Year award at the Canadian Country Music Association awards. Jenna and Stuart Walker also closed the show with a performance of their hit song What the Truck with Sacha. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press / Postmedia Network

Londoner Annette Dawm presented the Fan’s Choice Award, but Brett Kissel, one of her favorite artists whom she has met several times, was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

There were also virtual performances, the premiere of Thomas Rhett singing his number 1 hit, Country Again, unplugged with an accompanying guitarist. Walter Hayes then performed his own hit, Fancy Like, later followed by Chris Stapleton who played You Should Probably Leave.

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Country star Patricia Conroy, who shared the Songwriter of the Year award and had a string of hits in the 1990s including Somebody’s Leavin ‘and What Else Can I Do ?, and director of Randy’s record label were inducted into the CCMA Hall of Fame. Stark in the constructor category.

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CCMA 2021 winners

Artist of the Year: Dallas Smith

Album of the Year: Tenille Townes for The Lemonade Stand

Female Artist of the Year: Tenille Townes

Group or duo of the year: The Reklaws

Male Artist of the Year: Dallas Smith

Bachelor of the Year: Dallas Smith

Rising star: Robyn Ottolini

Alternative country album: Agricultural Tragic by Corb Lund

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