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Put jazz into the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards

GGPAA laureate (2002) Phil Nimmons plays clarinet at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. ©Brett Delmage, 2006OttawaJazzScene.ca received a press release September 14 from the National Arts Centre. Its message: that all Canadians can nominate their favourite artists for the 2012 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA). These awards are presented for lifetime artistic achievement by Canadians in the fields of broadcasting, classical music, dance, film, popular music, and theatre.

And so we thought - why not jazz?

In its 19-year lifetime, the award has been given to three jazz artists:  Oliver Jones (2005), Phil Nimmons (2002), and Oscar Peterson (1992). Those  are very worthy winners, but they're only three of 151 recipients.

Surely there are other Canadian jazz musicians who have contributed to the Canadian jazz scene and produced a major, influential body of work over many years ? Just in terms of saxophonists, I can think of Alex Dean, Kirk MacDonald, Mike Murley, and P.J. Perry – and I'm probably forgetting many others.

But those musicians won't get into contention unless you nominate them. The deadline is Friday, September 23, 2011 – just over a week away.

What you need to do is to submit a nomination, including filling out the nomination form, a letter of support and a short biography of the musician (biographies are normally easy to find on musicians' websites). The more individual nominations for an artist, the more likely they are to be considered.

All nominations will be reviewed by a jury of experts in each discipline who will make recommendations of the top candidates received through the  public nomination process. The GGPAA Board of Directors makes the final selection of recipients, with six chosen for lifetime artistic achievement  and one for the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts.

The laureates will be announced in the spring and celebrated at a series of events in Ottawa in May, culminating in a Gala at the National Arts  Centre on May 5, 2012. The laureates also each receive a cash award of $25,000, which would be very useful for financing a new album, for  example.

More information and the nomination form are available at: www.ggpaa.ca/en/nomination.html .

Get out there and nominate!

    – Alayne McGregor