AC VasquezThere was one more incredible feat, last Sunday, after Kansas City Chiefs’ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first Québécois to win the Super Bowl; it was a musical one, that helped kick the province’s national pride into overdrive. Alex Castillo Vasquez, born in Montréal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood, and winner of the 2018 SOCAN International Award, was at the helm of the musical production and arrangements of Shakira’s performance (as she shared the stage with Jennifer Lopez) during the half-time extravaganza.

On the phone the next day, SOCAN member Vasquez – who still couldn’t quite believe what happened – said it was quite a tall order. “I’ve been working on music with Shakira for three years now. We heard about the Super Bowl show while we were in Barcelona! Immediately and for the past three months, we started shaping the show, musically. Those were incredibly long days! This whole experience was incredible! I’ve learned a lot while working so closely with Shakira. And being able to watch the Super Bowl on the field last night is just priceless! Afterwards, I took my mom and sister to Shakira’s surprise party, that was a once in a lifetime event!”

Vasquez’s feat was also highly publicized in the Latino press, since he was born to a Colombian mother and a Dominican father, and articles about him were published in El Día and Listin Diaro.

As mentioned, his collaboration with Shakira didn’t start with their collaboration on her spectacular medley for the half-time show. He’s already produced five songs for the star, including her most recent hit “Me Gusta.” This is just one of his productions to have charted over the past few years, as he’s collaborated on hits for Becky G, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Niki Minaj.

SOCAN is proud of AC Vasquez’s international success, and wishes him many more high-profile accomplishments to come.

Dawn Tyler Watson won the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriter of the Year honours, as well as Recording/Producer of the Year (for Mad Love) at the 23rd annual Maple Blues Awards, presented by the Toronto Blues Society on Feb. 3, 2020, at Koerner Hall in Toronto.

Miss Emily

Miss Emily

After thanking her band for their arrangements and playing “that take these songs to the next level,” the Montréal-based Watson said, “I really believe there is a force and a power… it’s the force of love, it’s the force of music, it’s the force of passion, and I’ve been blessed to be able to have that given to me… It’s because of grace that I’m standing here today.”

Miss Emily, from Kingston, Ont., was the big winner of the night, taking home three trophies: Female Vocalist and New Artist of the Year, as well as the inaugural Sapphire Video Award, for “Hold Back the River.” The Blues With A Feeling Award for lifetime achievement went to Montréal’s Michael Jerome Brown, for his long-standing career and commitment to blues music. New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen took home trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year and Acoustic Act of the Year

The sixth annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award, along with a $1,000 prize, was handed out to Rich Junco for his song “Cope.” First runners-up Bad Luck Woman & Her Misfortunes earned a $250 prize for their song “Curel Thing,” while the was a tie for the $250 second runners-up prize: Joe Nolan for “Paranoia Day 36 Blues,” and Loryn Taggart for “In My Company.”

The Maple Blues Awards are funded in part by the SOCAN Foundation.

For a full list of winners, click here.

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