by Laura Jean Grant, Courtesy of the Cape Breton Post

(Left) Angelo Spinazzola, with Grade 4 students from Eskasoni, during a recording session at Soundpark Studios in Sydney. Spinazzola’s “First Nations Songwriting Sessions with Angelo Spinazzola,” is nominated for an ECMA in the children’s recording of the year category.

SYDNEY – If Angelo Spinazzola were to pick up a win in the children’s recording of the year category during East Coast Music Awards Week, he’ll be sharing it with First Nations students from across the island.

The Cape Breton singer-songwriter is nominated for an ECMA for “First Nations Songwriting Sessions with Angelo Spinazzola,” which is the result of a school program that began simply but has grown significantly in recent years.

During regular music and songwriting workshops at schools in Waycobah, Eskasoni, Membertou and Chapel Island, Spinazzola works with elementary students, performing and talking about his own music, playing some tunes he’s developed with other students, and eventually brainstorming with them about ideas for a new song.

“I take that and then I go home with it and I develop a theme. I go back the next week and I have a theme and then we start writing and I teach them a chorus, a bridge and verses, and I teach them a little bit about songwriting. Throughout this whole process I also teach them a bit of singing,” he said.

Spinazzola eventually decided to compile the best of four years worth of work with students into a CD.

“That compilation turned out to be the ‘First Nations Songwriting Sessions,’ which is a full-length CD with First Nations schools on Cape Breton Island,” he said. “They are all up for an East Coast Music Award. It’s a big deal.”

Spinazzola said that the concept of songwriting sessions for students is spreading, noting he’s now involved in a local anti-substance abuse campaign called the Red Road Project, and has received inquiries from other parts of the country about his program.

“This thing is branching out. I just got a call from Iqaluit asking if I wanted to come up and do a week songwriting session here with the youth,” he said.

In addition to the children’s recording nomination, Spinazzola is also heading into this week’s East Coast Music Awards in Moncton, N.B., with a shot at another award, in the roots/traditional solo recording of the year category for his latest solo album “Beautifully Imperfect.”

“I was pretty overjoyed. I had a nomination for two different categories, for two different albums, which really, really, really excited me,” he said. “This is 25-26 years of doing this and I’ve been nominated before and I’ve been on the show and I’ve done the showcases but it’s really nice to be recognized by the industry.”

Spinazzola said the musical community in Atlantic Canada has been  “extremely warm and accepting” and an important support system for him throughout his career. Now, he said, he tries to offer similar support to the region’s next generation of musicians.

“I want to nurture what has been nurtured in me by my peers. I am definitely all about helping the younger people and basically giving back what’s been given to me.”

Spinazzola said he’s looking forward to performing, attending workshops, and getting together with friends at this year’s ECMAs, which begin Wednesday and conclude with Sunday night’s gala awards show.

For more information on Spinazzola and for a free download of “First Nations Songwriting Sessions with Angelo Spinazzola” go to

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