With six nominations for this year’s Music Nova Scotia Awards, Don Brownrigg is back on top of his game.
Along with nominations for folk, music video, solo recordings, and industry professional of the year, the Halifax-based musician is also in line for awards in both the recording and songwriter categories, with most of the nominations for his latest album Fireworks. And while it may have been a long time in coming, he considers it to be some of his best work.
“I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, but it is great to get a shout-out from the community,” he says of his nominations.
Music Nova Scotia members will choose the winners, except for the entertainer of the year award which will be selected by the public. The awards will be presented on November 10 at this year’s Nova Scotia Music Week in Truro.
“It definitely makes you feel special,” says Brownrigg of the peer recognition. “We’re all such close friends, and we just started texting each other congratulations for all the nominations we’re competing against each other for. It’s nice to get the validation for all the work.”
Hailing from a small Scottish enclave in Newfoundland, like many musicians, Brownrigg found his love for music through his family. “My parents were the hosts of many a raging kitchen party, and so I grew up around Celtic music,” he says.
Describing himself as very shy as a child, his first foray into music came from singing in choirs. He also found surprising ease in performing.
“I always had a little discomfort and awkwardness in life, but when I get on stage it just all goes away,” he says.
With singer-songwriters in the family and cousins with a band back home though, it was perhaps an inevitability that Brownrigg would eventually become a musician himself.
It also helped that he was one of those rare kids who took piano lessons without being forced. “My home was in music,” he says.
Eventually making a move to Halifax in 2005, Brownrigg’s career started to take shape.
Performing at open mics several times a week and writing songs, he also made connections in the local music community.
“I played in a bunch of bands and then started playing my songs,” Brownrigg says of what would become the basis for his 2013 album It Takes All Kinds (To Make This World I Find).
It would take Brownrigg five years for the release of his latest album Fireworks this past February. It was a gap he attributes to finding confidence in himself as a musician and pursuing other ventures.
He also found himself falling in and out of love twice during those years. It was from these break-ups where he found both the album title and lyrics for the single “From You.”
“I kept referencing the two relationships I had during the writing of the album, and both were like a term of endearment; like fireworks,” he explains. “But then I got more metaphorical after those relationships ended with the idea of things being explosive and fizzling out too quickly.”
While Brownrigg will find out in November whether he will take home some of the trophies, he is already working on his next album.
As for when we can expect it? He tells us he is going to try to keep it under three years this time.
If Fireworks is any sign, it will be worth the wait.