Jason Benoit has been nominated for a CCMA for Alternative Country Album of the Year. – Submitted photo Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Jason Benoit has been blazing a trail through Canadian country music, making a name for himself with four top 30 hits, over 10 million streams worldwide, and numerous award nominations and wins under his belt. This has been a memorable year for Benoit, with the release of the second half of his newest album ‘Time Traveler’ in March, and its nomination for a Canadian Country Music Award (CCMA) for Alternative Country Album of the Year.

“It’s up there with album of the year in regards to pretty much the opposite side of the pop country album, but it’s a little more traditional country,” said Benoit, who was completely surprised by his nomination. “I knew I was in the running in the second round of voting because it’s voted by CCMA members, but I mean, the competition is always crazy. It’s so cool to be actually nominated this year.”

Staying true to his roots has always been important to Benoit.

“I’ve been lucky enough over the years that I’ve always had incredible support from my community, where I live in Western Newfoundland and a ton of family and friends. Just very blessed.”

Since 2021, there have been some major developments in his career.

“I released the full album Time Traveler, which was Side A that was released in 2022. I released the album in halves with the second half coming out in March of 2023. The side A is actually nominated for five Music NL Awards and five ECMA Awards. So with the nominations and just doing shows and now with the second part of the album coming out this year with the nomination from CCMA, it’s a great ending to this run on this album.” 

This isn’t the first time Benoit has been nominated for a CCMA award. In 2015 he was actually nominated for two CCMA awards – the Discovery Atlantic Award, which he also won, and the Rising Star Award. Time Traveler holds a special place for Benoit, who collaborated on it with his longtime friend Gerry Foote.

“This album goes back to a little bit more to my roots, how I first started playing and the kind of music I first started learning on guitar, and so I always was a traditional country fan, and this album definitely leans more into traditional country and 90’s country. We wrote it during the pandemic, me and my buddy Gerry. He’s from PEI and I’ve known him for like 15 years, and we didn’t even really plan on releasing,” said Benoit.

“We wrote together before. We released one single off of my last album, Revolution Part One, and that was the song, Two Wrongs. We actually wrote that one. But up to that point, we hadn’t really done much writing. We were just good buddies.”

What began as something to pass the time turned into the album that now been nominated for a CCMA.

“We hadn’t even planned on releasing these songs. We were just writing them for fun, which is the kind of songs, that type of music that we enjoyed, and just sitting around having a couple of beers and just having a bit of fun, just being creative, and we wrote the majority of this album.”

Benoit’s management and label walked away from the industry during the pandemic, so the duo began producing the album themselves.

“Myself and Gerry partnered on this album and decided to release something that was near and dear to our hearts, and basically the rest is history from there,” said Benoit. “I ended up getting a new management company, Johnson Talent Management out of Ontario, and distribution labels through Jayward Artist Group out of Ontario. So it’s been an incredible run on this album.”

Being able to write the album with such a dear friend means so much more to Benoit.

“This one comes from a different place. We weren’t chasing radio or we weren’t trying to really do anything but what we love, and when you get recognized for that, I think it’s definitely just means a whole lot more when it comes from a more honest place with people you know and just enjoy doing stuff with. So it’s really cool.”

The trajectory of Benoit’s career was something he always hoped for, but could never really be sure would actually happen. His first single was with Sony Canada in 2013. His first top 10 came in 2015.

“In this industry, it’s so hard because there are so many factors that go into getting you to that point, and a lot of it is your team and just timing. You could be an incredible singer and songwriter, but it just needs to all line up at that moment, and I was just lucky enough that it all did and it all took off from there. I still live in Fox Island River, a town of 200 people, and that’s where I lived at the beginning, so it’s always humbling to have any kind of success in this industry. I’m definitely blessed.”

Writing Time Traveler during a global pandemic definitely presented some hurdles.

“It was definitely tough. It was tough for so many different artists, and I think a lot of artists went back to their roots during the pandemic because everybody went back to their happy place and what felt like home for them because everybody was going through such a frustrating time. I think a lot of artists ended up writing music that was more genuine to them instead of chasing after something, say chasing what the radio might be playing,” said Benoit.

“It was obviously complicated, but I was lucky enough to have some music released very early on in the pandemic, so that helped me maintain the career and how everything was going. Then we ended up releasing the album in 2021, so everything was recorded from our homes, basically, and then it was all put together. You don’t really need to be in the studio anymore all together to record an album, thankfully, because it probably wouldn’t have gotten done. It all came together really well, actually, considering the circumstances.”

His new album isn’t the only reason Benoit has to be excited. He also has his own radio show which just started airing on Bay FM.

“Bay FM, which was Bay of Islands Radio out of Bay of Islands, close to Corner Brook, and it’s a community station, but they’ve got a great reach, and they’re expanding in the next year. They should be reaching basically the whole West Coast and they’re re-branding to Bay FM,” said Benoit.

“Lenny, the manager there now, who they just took on as manager, reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in doing my own one-hour radio program, every Saturday. It first aired Saturday past (July 15), and it’s a lot of fun. I can record it from anywhere, basically, because it’s a pre-recorded show, but I’m basically just playing songs that I love and that inspired me in my career and songs that are new that I’m digging now, and I can pretty much just play whatever I want. It’s a great form, another form of creative expression that’s really gratifying. I’m having a lot of fun with it.”

The CCMA award show will air on Saturday, Sept. 16 on CTV.

By Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 24, 2023 at 06:00

This item reprinted with permission from    Wreckhouse Weekly News    Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
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