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London's Aaron Allen wins big at Ontario country music awards

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It turns out Aaron Allen’s Highway Mile is paved in gold.

The London singer-songwriter walked away Sunday with male artist of the year and album of the year for Highway Mile at the Country Music Association of Ontario’s award night at the Ancaster Fairgrounds in Hamilton.

“Miracles do happen,” said Allen, who also sang his latest song, Just Getting By, with his wife Aimee moments after album of the year was announced.

“I was tuning my guitar and Aimee told me to put it down because the award was being announced for best album and I said, ‘No way.’ And then they announced Highway Mile. I had to go up there and play and my hands were still shaking.”

Bowmanville’s Meghan Patrick – who has dominated the awards the last few years – had three wins including female artist of the year, video and fans’ choice award.

The only other artists from the region with nominations this year were Windsor’s Kelsi Mayne, who was up for female artist of the year, and the singer-songwriter duo Mike Ure and Aidan Johnson-Bujold, known as Buck Twenty, who come from the towns of Harrow and LaSalle near Windsor and won group or duo of the year.

Making Allen’s win even sweeter was the win by his producer, Jeff Dalziel, of producer of the year award for his work with Aaron Allen, David Boyd Janes and River Town Saints.

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The awards, with 17 categories, were hosted by country star Jason McCoy and Beverly Mahood. Performers at the drive-in show also included Susan Aglukark, Buck Twenty, David Boyd Janes, Owen Barney, Reney Ray, Tim Hicks, Robyn Ottolini, Kelly Prescott, Sacha, Elyse Saunders, The Redhill Valleys and the CMAOntario Awards house band The Western Swing Authority.

Last year, when the awards were held at Western Fair Raceway in a drive-in format, Allen was nominated for male artist of the year and rising star, which he won, his first industry nominations (outside Forest City London Music Awards) in his 20 years as a performer.

Other album of the year nominees include All Woman by Nicole Rayy, Jade Eagleson’s self-titled album, Love Wins by Kelly Prescott and the But I’m Not Always Hilarious EP by Robyn Ottolini.

Other nominees in the male artist category include Andrew Hyatt, Darcy John, David Boyd Janes and Tim Hicks, who has played several shows in the London region during the last two months.

“Every one of those artists I just respect so much. I never thought I’d have a chance,” said Allen. “It’s just unbelievable. It’s crazy. I never thought it would happen. I’m still in shock.”

Eight songs Allen penned or co-wrote last year were released by other artists. He also inked a deal with publishing label Arts and Crafts, whose stable includes the late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, Sarah Harmer, Feist, Molly Johnson and the bands Said the Whale and Broken Social Scene.

Highway Mile has been streamed more than three million times, and Allen was named Apple music artist of the week for April 24 to 30 in 2020.

jbelanger@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress

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