The East Coast Music Awards celebrates its 35th Anniversary in Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 3-7

(Halifax, NS) – The East Coast Music Awards: Festival and Conference (ECMA) is celebrating a monumental 35th anniversary this year with a five-day, non-stop musical event showcasing and recognizing the best of East Coast artists and music, Wednesday, May 3 to Sunday, May 7 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Kicking off ECMA 2023 is the Wije’winen (Come With Us) Cultural Circle. Together, the ECMA and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) invite people to gather for an opening blessing at the Grand Parade on Wednesday, May 3 at 12 noon. Lit teepees, a sacred fire, and an on-site firekeeper and Elder will be present then and throughout the festival weekend.  The Cultural Circle will also include a showcase of Indigenous dance, drumming and song on Saturday, May 6.

“We are especially pleased this year to be able to share, stage and highlight our rich Mi’kmaq culture in the centre of Kjipuktuk as we transform the Grand Parade into the Wije’winen Cultural Circle for the East Coast Music Awards,” says Pam Glode Desrochers – MNFC Executive Director & ECMA LEC Co-chair. “We applaud the organizers of ECMA 2023 and HRM for providing this incredible opportunity to showcase our community and our people.”

The opening celebrations continue at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel’s Nova Scotia Ballroom on Wednesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. with the 35th Anniversary Kickoff Party, presented by Atlantic Lottery. This year, ECMA will host a classic East Coast Kitchen Party, led by the Kitchen Party King himself – Rankin MacInnis. More special guests and performers will be announced soon. This event is for pass holders only. To buy a pass, visit: ECMA.com.

On Thursday, May 4, the 35th Annual East Coast Music Awards and Red Carpet presented by Rogers will take place at the Scotiabank Centre. Red carpet arrivals begin at 5:30 p.m. and the show – which will be broadcast nationally and streamed around the world – will begin at 8 p.m. Recognizing the best and brightest of the East Coast’s artists and music, this year’s show will be hosted by comedian Trent McClellan of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and will feature performances by ECMA nominees Adam BaldwinAquakultre, City NativesDeantha EdmundsDylan MenzieFortunate OnesLes Hotesses d’Hilaire, Jah’MilaKellie LoderMadison VioletNatalie MacMasterNeon Dreams and more. For tickets, visit: ECMA.com.

The East Coast Music & Industry Awards Part II will take place at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel’s Nova Scotia Ballroom on Sunday, May 7 at 11 a.m. Performers include: XIA-3JRDNIsabella Samson, and Rawlins Cross. Limited tickets are available by emailing ecma@ecma.com.

“We have two incredibly exciting Awards shows planned,” says Andy McLean, CEO of ECMA. “We will hand out 14 awards at Thursday’s show and feature 13 performances and at Sunday’s show, we will present 36 more music, industry, and honourary awards with four live performances. Both events will represent artists in multiple genres and the diversity of today’s East Coast sounds.”

The TD Connected Concerts festival showcase series will take place from Thursday, May 4 to Saturday, May 6 at venues throughout HRM. Venues hosting stages include, The CarletonThe Marquee BallroomThe Seahorse TavernGus’ Pub & GrillLevel 8 Night ClubCasino Nova ScotiaHalifax Central LibraryAlderney Landing, and Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel. With over 130 artists showcasing, event goers will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in as much of Atlantic Canada’s vibrant and diverse music culture as they can take in. An ECMA Weekend Warrior wristband grants access to all TD Connected Concerts. Buy your wristband here: ECMA.com.

On Saturday, May 6 from 12 noon – 3 p.m., the ECMA presents – for the first time in ECMA history – the Dairy Farmers of Canada ECMA Fan Fest, an outdoor afternoon street party on Argyle Street (North Block) in Downtown Halifax. This FREE family-friendly event will feature live performances by four East Coast fan-favourites: Kellie LoderNeon DreamsJRDN, and DeeDee Austin. It will include meet and greet opportunities, activities, games, and more.

Coinciding with the Dairy Farmers of Canada ECMA Fan Fest is the ECMA Family Fun-Fest taking place on the opposite end of Argyle Street (South Block) on Saturday, May 6 from 12 noon – 3 p.m. This FREE event will feature family-friendly programming including a face painter, fun food options with free samples courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, games from GLOW Parties, and more.

There will be two ‘music meets sports’ charity events happening as part of ECMA 2023 this year.

The first annual ECMA All-Star Charity Basketball Game will take place at Saint Mary’s University Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness on Wednesday, May 3 at 6 p.m. to raise money for Hot Cocoa Boys, a Halifax-based social enterprise within the Hope Blooms organization. This fun, friendly competition will see two teams of musicians, industry professionals, basketball players, and other community members vie for the title of ECMA All-Star Basketball Champions. East Coast musicians tying up their sneaks include, Jody UpshawMajeKXNG WOOZCarleton StoneWillie StrattonSara Eve, and Maggie Andrew and more. The ECMA All-Star Charity Basketball Game is FREE to attend and is open to all ages. Donations will be accepted at the door in support of Hot Cocoa Boys. More details on their community efforts here: hopeblooms.ca/products/hot-cocoa-boys.

Don’t miss the third annual ECMA Cup, a charity hockey game in support of Sound Minds – a named grant through the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia directly supporting musicians and their mental health, at the Halifax Forum on Saturday, May 6 at 2 p.m. Coaching the two all-star teams will be esteemed curlers, Mark Dacey, and Colleen Jones. Musicians lacing up their skates for this ice battle include, ClassifiedQuake MatthewsHeather Rankin, and Michael S. Ryan and Bruce Gillis of The Town Heroes. They will be joined by former NHLer Andrew Gordon (Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks), with more players to be announced. The ECMA Cup is FREE to attend and is open to all ages. Donations will be accepted at the door in support of Sound Minds. For more details,visit: mentalhealthns.ca/sound-minds.

Always a festival highlight and an annual ECMA tradition is the SOCAN Songwriters’ Circle. This year, this showcase will take place at the Schooner Room at Casino Nova Scotia on Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m. The esteemed lineup of songwriters consists of Fortunate OnesAdam BaldwinJoce ReyomeBreagh IsabelO’SoundJason BenoitLisa LeBlanc, and Mo Kenney. For tickets, visit: ECMA.com.

The ECMA Conference and Export Program, taking place from Thursday, May 4 to Saturday, May 6, is the hub for new business opportunities for East Coast artists. The 2023 Conference “Connect. Mentor. Inspire.” is the premiere destination for all Atlantic Canadian artists and industry professionals to connect with international guest delegates and educators through one-on-one meetings, networking sessions, panel discussions and workshops and keynote conversations. The 21st edition of the ECMA Export Buyers Program will proudly welcome a diverse network of over 100 music industry delegates from the nine countries, including booking agents, talent buyers, festivals, event and venue programmers, promoters, presenters, music supervisors, sync agents, digital experts, and media from the music industry around the world. Full details here: ecma.com/ecma-2023/2023-ecma-industry-conference/.

ECMA is proud to present Franco Est 2023 as an integral component at the 35th anniversary musical celebration, spotlighting 40 Acadian and Francophone showcasing artists, and welcoming a strong delegation of International and Canadian Francophone music buyers and presenters from France, Switzerland and across Canada. The full program will be unveiled this Thursday, April 6.

For the full ECMA 2023 schedule and to purchase passes, wristbands, and tickets, visit: ECMA.com.

Ten 2023 Honourary East Coast Music Award recipients will be announced on April 11.

The official ECMA 2023 App will be available for download on Friday, April 14.

The East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference would not be possible without the tremendous help of volunteers. Check out the benefits and sign up, here: ECMA.com.

“We are delighted that this 35th Anniversary edition of the ECMAs is back to being fully in person – fully engaged with the community and putting music where it best belongs – on stage in front of enthusiastic fans,” adds McLean. “As music takes over Halifax for five days and nights this May, we are reminded how much it adds to our lives. With over 500 musicians, 40 shows, 25+ venues and a huge diversity of genres, I’m sure you’ll find something that suits your taste and maybe discover new favourites. Congratulations to all our talented East Coast artists and a huge thank you to everyone who has made this special ECMA possible.”