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HALIFAX — Classified, Les Hay Babies, Maxim Cormier, Rich Aucoin and Rose Cousins have emerged as the big winners of the 2021 East Coast Music Awards, snagging two of Atlantic Canada’s biggest music prizes each.

The awards were announced Sunday evening as part of a show hosted by Heather Rankin and livestreamed on the ECMA’s social media platforms.

Top accolades went to Halifax’s Neon Dreams for album of the year, Prince Edward Island’s Catherine MacLellan for songwriter of the year and Cape Breton’s Beolach for fans’ choice entertainer of the year.

New to the awards this year was the category of African Canadian artist of the year, which went to Halifax’s Zamani.

The late Rita MacNeil was also inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Altogether, artists from Cape Breton earned six ECMA awards, mainland Nova Scotia claimed 16 awards, New Brunswickers took home nine, P.E.I. artists snagged four and artists from Newfoundland and Labrador claimed six.

The first batch of ECMA award winners were announced Thursday evening during a virtual show that included live performances.

Next year’s ECMA awards will be held in Fredericton — returning to the New Brunswick capital for the first time since 2008.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to each and every artist and industry professional, as well as our staff, contractors, and partners, who adapted to each change along the way with positivity and perseverance,” ECMA CEO Andy McLean said in a statement.

“We’d also like to thank all those who participated in the preparation of this show, those who tuned-in, and to Sydney and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for their inimitable hospitality over the past year.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2021.