Cameron Philip captured his third Niagara Music Award Sunday night in Niagara Falls.
His song, Pretender, was proclaimed the song of the year at the 12th annual gala, which celebrates performers, producers, and promoters of Niagara’s finest music.
The Thorold artist, who was also nominated for hip hop album of the year—Feelings and Failures, and hip hop artist of the year, accepted his award for Pretender, after a passionate onstage performance of a soon-to-be-realeased tune, My God.
Philip, age 22, has garnered an impressive 500,000 YouTube followers around the world, and fans rushed to his side to pose for selfies with him Sunday at the ScotiaBank Convention Centre. He also fielded offers to play in local venues.
"I don't make music to win awards, but to have it recognized is really cool," he told the Thorold News. "It’s heartwarming."
Last fall, he was crowned hip hop artist of the year and also picked up a trophy for engineer of the year at the annual Niagara Music Awards.
The talented young musician has exploded in popularity, with fans eager to hear his original material, K-pop (Korean popular) covers and English dubs.
He had already established a lucrative career through his own musical efforts, featured on YouTube. But that became even more lucrative last year when he signed with Studio71, a global leader in branding and merchandising on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
“They offer more money through separate ad revenue and connections to get brand deals and get you verified on Instagram, Twitter and other social media,” Philip previously told Thorold News.
He added that Studio71 provides an overseeing manager in Los Angeles and a personal manager stationed in Toronto.
Other winners at Sunday’s ceremony included James Blonde for best rock artist, Jessica Wilson for best female artist, Ryan Langdon for best country artist, Hard Rock Hooligans for best bar band, Gravely James for best blues artist, nico tk for best new artist, the Jay Diem Band for best adult contemporary artist, Welland Wasted for best punk band, Aarys for best music video, Giancarlo & the Scarfones for best new group, Unified Planet for best original group, and the Country Junkies clinched the coveted people’s choice award for 2019.
Ryan Lunn, who won best male artist, as well as songwriter of the year, will be flown to Nashville, courtesy of the Niagara Music Awards.
“I live in songs,” said Lunn. “They’re in my head all the time.”
A special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Leroy Emmanuel, long-time lead singer and guitarist of Niagara’s popular classic rock band, The LMT Connection.
“When I turned 12, I became a professional musician,” Emmanuel told the large audience, which erupted into a standing ovation.
“I have been on stage for 61 years, and I’m going on 74. I’ve been living here in Niagara Falls, Ontario for more than 40 years. I have fallen in love with Niagara Falls, and the people of Niagara Falls. That’s why I did not go back to Motown, California, or New York,” he said, though he’s travelled the world during his career, playing with greats like Marvin Gaye and John Lee Hooker.
Strapping on his trademark 1971 Gibson guitar, “The green machine,” he and his bandmates Mark Rogers and John Irvine performed two songs, which sent dozens of people springing out of their seats onto the dance floor.
Todd Brown, who’s organized the Niagara Music Awards for eight years, summed up his motivation for continuing to unite and celebrate Niagara musicians through the annual event.
“We have these fake lives on social media,” he said. “That, sometimes, isn’t real. Music transcends all the bullsh**t, because it speaks a language we can all agree on. It doesn’t have a colour. It doesn’t have a race. It’s energy.”