OMIC’s Melanie Brulée talks taking care of business at Capital Music Awards 

Music industry to gather May 16 to shine spotlight on exceptional talent, dedication and innovation of artists and industry professionals

Melanie Brulée, executive director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, at last year's Capital Music Awards held at the Bronson Centre Music Theatre. Photo by Jen Derbach/Jen Derbach Photography
Editor's Note is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors and Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties® Inc. Read their stories here.

It was a proud moment for Ottawa when local singer-songwriter and musician Talk was named Breakthrough Artist of the Year at last month’s Juno Awards.

Seated in the Halifax audience that night was Melanie Brulée, executive director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC). Right beside her was Erin Benjamin, president and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Live Music Association. “We freaked out together,” recalled Brulée of their excited response to Talk’s win. Later, she justifiably boasted to anyone within earshot: “He’s from Ottawa, he’s from Ottawa!”

Brulée is now busy preparing for our city’s own version of the Junos with the 5th Annual Capital Music Awards, set to return to the Bronson Centre Music Theatre on Thursday, May 16. The evening, presented by OMIC, celebrates the success of local artists and industry professionals. “The music industry in Ottawa is really booming.”

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For the first time, the Capital Music Awards has a corporate presenting sponsor: Ottawa-based supply chain software company Kinaxis. It marks a partnership between business and music that Brulée is particularly “proud of and excited about.” 

Kinaxis CEO John Sicard, who is a champion of live music and a life-long drummer, will make a cameo appearance in a special video to be shared at the awards with an audience of up to 700. The video features well-known local hip-hop artist and award-winning radio host J Morris. He’s introducing the sponsors in a fun and creative way, as opposed to the dry and forgettable manner in which corporate sponsors tend to be acknowledged publicly, said Brulée.

The 2024 Capital Music Awards returns to the Bronson Centre Theatre Centre on Thursday, May 16, 2024, with the support of local businesses.

The Capital Music Awards is being hosted by Juno-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Angelique Francis, who’s also performing with her band. Additionally, the musical program includes five-time nominated indie art rock band Pony Girl, Métis folk singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume, and hip-hop sensation LeFLOFRANCO. The Lionyls will take to the stage as the house band for the evening under the musical direction of Brian Asselin of The Commotions.  

“We’ve got a killer lineup,” said Brulée of plans to showcase some of Ottawa’s best music.“It’s going to be a really cool show that happens to have some awards given out during it.”

The event will feature 13 categories, all vetted by juries composed of industry professionals. The public was given a chance to vote in five of the categories, to provide fans and industry peers an opportunity to recognize their favourite artists and contributors.

OMIC is a bilingual member-based non-profit that works closely with the City of Ottawa and its economic development department to help amplify the voice of the local music industry, setting the stage for continued growth.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe at last year’s Capital Music Awards held at the Bronson Centre Music Theatre. Photo by Jen Derbach/Jen Derbach Photography

While the nation’s capital plays host to many international artists at its large music venues and summer festivals, it also has a thriving local music scene that deserves more attention, said Brulée.  

“Some people live in Ottawa their whole lives but aren’t privy to this really vibrant industry happening right in front of their faces,” said Brulée. One problem OMIC is trying to fix is the common misconception that Ottawa is dull. “I don’t think it’s ever been a matter of ‘Ottawa is boring.’ It’s more a matter of people not knowing where to find the great stuff. Once you tap into it, it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is incredible.’”

OMIC runs programs with the BIAs to bring free musical concerts, featuring local performers, to public spaces across the city. It also works with the Sparks Street BIA to organize a lunchtime concert series during the nicer weather months, as well as a pop-up DJ and electronic music series.

Particularly innovative is its concert series collaboration with Kinaxis to bring local, touring and emerging artists from different musical genres to perform at the company’s headquarters in the Kanata West Business Park.

Kinaxis hosts the concerts for its employees on its fully functioning stage, known as The Hive. 

“I think business is starting to understand that status quo, and just being a robot at a computer desk, is not good for the business and is not good for the worker,” said Brulée of how companies such as Kinaxis see the value in incorporating live music into its culture.

OMIC has also been working with lovable business leader Kevin Ford, whose musical passion is guitar. He’s the CEO of Calian Group, an Ottawa-based company that provides technology services to a variety of industries, including health care, defence and IT. 

Ford will be hosting a large group of business leaders at the Capital Music Awards as a way of encouraging them to explore potential opportunities for building partnerships with the local music industry, said Brulée.

Companies and institutions often acknowledge that a vibrant nightlife is important to attracting and retaining talent, she noted. “There needs to be a way for people in high-stress jobs to let loose, to connect, to be human.”

The music industry in Ottawa has a particular challenge due to the allure of government jobs, which offer stable salaries and benefits. There’s also the risk of artists relocating to other cities. Alongside decreasing revenue streams, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract creators to a complex freelance system, which is why it’s so important to foster corporate partnerships to keep music in Ottawa alive, said Brulée.

“We’re trying to build an ecosystem here, with more labels, more managers, more jobs and the things that you need to be successful in the music industry here, so that people don’t have to take off.”

The seven nominations linked to Ottawa at the 2024 Juno Awards is a positive sign, said Brulée. “We’re trying to build a road to the Junos, a road to international touring. We do have artists that are exporting and that are connecting with audiences in multiple languages, which is really cool.”

Brulée previously left her hometown of Cornwall to pursue her own career as a bilingual singer-songwriter and musician. She spent 15 years performing and touring internationally. She co-founded a woman-led collective of songwriters and has used music to fundraise for mental health organizations. She’s also worked within the sector in artist management, consulting and public relations.

“I am a community builder at heart, but I’m also a business person; I like business,” said Brulée, who believes in creating partnerships and relationships with other organizations based on shared visions and objectives. “It’s about building something interesting long term, instead of just getting you to give us a couple hundred bucks, or whatever, and then we move on. That’s not what we’re doing.

“We’re braiding ourselves with the business community, and I think that’s just good business.”

Melanie Brulée, executive director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, with entrepreneur and singer-songwriter Sue Odle, current board chair of OMCI, at last year’s Capital Music Awards held at the Bronson Centre Music Theatre.


Here is a complete list of nominees for the 2024 CMAs are:

Live Music Venue of the Year (Voting Category) – presented by Canadian Live Music Association
The Brass Monkey
Bronson Centre Music Theatre
Club SAW
LIVE! on Elgin
Rainbow Bistro
Red Bird

Video of the Year (Voting Category) – presented by inmotion
Almiros – « Boîte de Pandore/Vulgaire »
Beau Nectar – “Buds”
High Waters – “Strange Love”
Jessica Pearson and the East Wind – “Row”
The New Hires – “New York City”
Pony Girl – “Laff It Off”

Live Music Curator of the Year (Voting category)
Carissa Klopoushak – Chamberfest
Debaser – Pique
Fiddles on the Rideau Festival
Pearly Pouponneau – Pearly Media
Sharlène Clarke – Hors Pair Social
Shawn Scallen – Spectrasonic
The Space Between
Stacie Sivyer – The Rainbow

Newcomer of the Year (Voting Category)
Beau Nectar
Grey Brisson
Hannah Vig
James Gibson

Single of the Year (Voting Category)
Country Club Pool Boy, Sister Amaru – “Nothing Sweet”
Double Experience – “This is War”
JOLY – « Ça tourne encore »
Pony Girl – “Laff It Off”
Les Rats d’Swompe – « Dans l’cabanon »
Zach Diamond – “Moves”

Album of the Year
The Commotions – Volume III
Mikhail Laxton – Mikhail Laxton
Mimi O’Bonsawin – Boréale
Pony Girl – Laff It Off

Solo Artist of the Year
Grey Brisson
Jessie Simmons
Melissa Lamm
Mimi O’Bonsawin
Zach Diamond

Group of the Year
Beau Nectar
The Commotions
Les Rats d’Swompe
School House

Songwriter of the Year
N’nerjie – “Tug of War”
Pascal Huot (Pony Girl) – “Wannabe”
Hannah Vig – “Juliet”
Anthony Brisson (Grey Brisson) – “Nobody!”
Mimi O’Bonsawin – “Willow”

Best Production and Arrangements – presented by Kaneshii Vinyl
Beau Nectar – « On fera la fête »
The Commotions – “Feel The Commotion”
Doressa – “Curtains”
Ken Yates – “Consolation Prize”
Pony Girl – “Laff It Off”
Valvehead – “Corrosive”

Music Educator of the Year
Danah-Lee Krieger – More Than A Song Studios
Danielle Allard
Jacynthe Dupont
Marc-Antoine Joly
Sherryl Fitzpatrick – Sherryl Fitzpatrick’s School of Music

Sound Engineer of the Year
David ”Quest” Leclerc
Nick Schofield
Nicolas Séguin
Stefan Jurewicz
Steve Foley

Community Impact Award – presented by Unique FM
(To be announced at the awards ceremony)

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