Two award-winning country music contributors


Hailey Benedict Wins First Canadian Country Music Association Award and Bill Borgwardt’s Photographic Collection Honored by National Music Center Calgary

Tenille Townes scooped five trophies at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Calgary on Sept. 11, however, newcomer Hailey Benedict’s enthusiasm surpassed that of the veteran as she landed her first CCMA material as Top Artist interactive of the year.

“My first reaction was shock. My team was at my table and they had to tell me to come up. It wasn’t registering in my brain,” the St. Albert singer-songwriter said. “I was going through all kinds of emotions. I was speechless because it was so amazing. I’m in heaven.

The Interactive Artist of the Year award recognizes an artist’s fan engagement and hard work in promoting their music and brand. Benedict alone has garnered over 220,000 followers on TikTok, making her one of the most followed Canadian country artists on the platform.

“With the pandemic, I couldn’t go out to perform at concerts and festivals. TikTok was the only way I connected with people and I’m grateful to all those people,” she said.

Her 2021 single I wanted you became a smash hit after its release and peaked at number 25 on the Mediabase Country Chart. It became the highest-charting independent female CANCON single of the year. For women, who find it harder than men to establish themselves in the country, and for an independent artist without a music label to support him, it was a resounding success.

“The success of I wanted you had a huge impact on the people who found me. It provided recognition and helped create flow.

While winning the CCMA award has yet to translate to dollars that make a difference, mingling with other singer-songwriters and industry figures was a big plus.

“I’ve met a lot of artists and talked to them, and I’ve had a lot of independent artists reach out to me and [say] you don’t need to have a big oar to do it. I gave people hope. It can be a daunting industry.

More importantly, the CCMA recognition proves that she is on the right track.

“I still have a lot to learn, grow and find the right path. But I know I will do it with great mentors like Dan Davidson.

Benedict, who traveled to Nashville this year to write songs and put together demos for a new single, will also perform at Calgary’s Stampede City Sessions (SCS) on November 19. SCS is a live music streaming series that features local and international artists performing at the Webber Academy Center for the Performing Arts. The film series then airs on KSPS PBS.

“I’ll be playing with Aaron Goodvin and I’m looking forward to it.”

Bill Borgwardt

Bill Borgwardt has also been recognized for his photographic contributions to the country music industry. The Sturgeon County resident celebrated a career milestone at the National Music Center in Calgary alongside an exhibit of his cameras and memorabilia.

“Being able to have them recognize me like that is pretty good. I’m honored they got it for when the CCMA Awards were here and all the country music [industry] was there,” he said.

Borgwardt has photographed country music events across Alberta for over 25 years. He covered thousands of events – CD release parties at trade shows, concerts, festivals, award ceremonies – nothing was too big or too small.

Its collection included over 100,000 photos of Canadian country artists. Knowing this vast reservoir of images, the National Music Center often contacted him to use photos of artists.

Wondering what to do with the stock, Borgwardt approached the National Music Center to see if they would accept it.

“That way they’re there for everyone to use in the future. Rather than emailing me every time they want a picture of Brett Kissel or Aaron Goodvin, it’s much easier to put the pictures on a hard drive and give it to them,” Borgwardt said.

Throughout his decade-plus career, he’s developed a knack for nabbing top singers.

“I want my photos to have a cheerful, dynamic look that connects with the audience. I don’t do stuff with a mic stuck in my mouth. I catch the moment when the audience is clapping and there’s a special look on the performer’s face. It’s a happy look. I always try to anticipate what they are going to do. But you have to be very patient. »

A significant sample of his photos is available at


Comments are closed.