Ruth Manning has another feather in her hat. The Valley-based country musician has earned some serious distinction as a country singer in a mecca for country singers – the State of Tennessee.
Manning is the recipient of a Josie Music Award, in the female rising star vocalist category.
“It was exciting, especially for a singer from little old Nova Scotia,” Manning said. “It’s an honour to win, and it was really exciting to be recognized on that scale.”
Manning, who sings and performs with her band, Ruth Manning and the Prospectors, said she didn’t set out with the expectation of winning, since there was so much talented competition.
In her category in particular, Manning was up against 10 other nominees.
“There were so many other nominees in the category I was in,” Manning said. “It was way more than some award shows, where there are just five nominees or something.”
The Josie Award recognizes the skill, material, professionalism of musicians by industry leaders.
The Josie Awards were started by Josie Passantino and her mother Tinamarie Passantino. This year’s award show was the fifth annual. The Josie Awards are the largest independent music award show in the industry.
Manning won an award in a musical competition that doesn’t specifically focus on talent in her genre. The multi-genre Josie Awards showcase and recognize a wide variety of musicians from all over the world.
Manning, who hails from the slope of South Mountain in Prospect, traveled to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to participate in the Josie Awards show – the largest award show for independent artists.
Manning’s award was the came from one of two nominations. The other nomination she received was for her song Christmas on My Mind, in the holiday song of the year category. This year was second time since last year she was nominated for a Josie Award.
Reflecting on what earned her the nominations and award, Manning credited her success to the busy schedule she and her band have kept over the last few years.
“We’ve be doing an increasing number of engagements, and different kinds of things,” Manning said. “I organized a music festival this past summer called Heat up the Mountain, and that was a bigger undertaking for me than some of the regular things we do.”
During that time, Manning also kept up with a regular schedule of songwriting, often submitting her work in competitions and contests, such as the Music City Songstar contest.
“I submitted a couple of songs to Music City Songstar, and had them reach the semifinal round, which was kind of a big deal for me as well,” she said. “I’ve been continuously looking for opportunities out there that I wasn’t aware of before.”
Manning admitted winning a Josie Award changed her perspective on what she can do as a musician. Although she kept busy before that point, the award and her experience receiving it, constituted an “a-ha-moment” for her.
“I was at a point where I thought I was too old for this kind of thing. Then last year, a woman I spoke to at the Josie Awards won an award. She was a retired music teacher of three years – she was older than I am now,” Manning said. “She went on to pursue a music career and has a successful platinum album. That put a different perspective for me to see things from, and I realized there is still an opportunity to do a lot of things here.”
Manning considers her Josie Award a significant professional milestone in her career, specifically given who was judging her eligibility. Josie Awards are given based on merit, and “aren’t a popularity contest.”
“It’s industry people who do all the judging. When you submit, they are the ones who look and decide who gets nominations,” Manning said. “It’s not a voting-things, and there’s more legitimacy to it.
“I’m really pleased to be around folks who know what they’re doing, and saying ‘Yeah, this is good material.’ It’s nice to get that recognition in the industry.”
Manning barely had time to set foot on Canadian soil after returning from Tennessee before receiving another award – the World Songwriting Awards recognized her song “Second Wind” as best traditional country song.
“I was shocked,” Manning said, noting the timing of her World Songwriting Award.
“I received an email with the subject line, ‘You Won,’ and at first I was skeptical as to what that was.”
When she opened the letter and discovered it to be genuine, and very relevant the excitement fully set in.
“It is so nice to receive the recognition and to know that my song was chosen out of a large number of entries,” she said.