Everything You Need To Know About The 2023 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards

Did you know that one of the biggest and most exciting awards show in Canada happens every year in Ottawa? Yes we all know about those music ones that I’ve attended and loved forever, but I’m talking about The 2023 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards which takes place at The National Arts Centre and brings together artists of all walks of life, and art lovers too! Yes. This event is taking place of May 27th in Ottawa and I’ve got all the details on how you can buy tickets to join us in the celebration, red carpet and gala in today’s blog post!

It’s a full circle moment for me (I’ve been having a lot of those lately!) because one of the first events the blog attended when I used to have contributors was this event. Catherine and Amanda walked the red carpet and celebrated Canadian artists and their accomplishments. This year, I’m attended and cannot wait to celebrate the nominees I’ll list for you below!

We all know that I am such HUGE fan and proponent for Canadian talent and this event is the recognition that those nominated truly deserve. AND it’s about to take place right here in Ottawa. Did I also mention that it’s a reason to get dressed up to attend a HUGE party that you too can join in on?

The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) are Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. The awards recognize a stellar array of artists and arts volunteers for their outstanding contribution to culture in Canada and abroad.

Each year, Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards are presented for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in the five categories of theatre, dance, classical music, popular music, and film and broadcasting. These awards recognize artists who have made an indelible contribution to Canada and the world’s cultural life. Recipients of these awards are nominated by the general public.

Want to know who is being honoured this year and joining some of the best talent Canada has honoured in years past?  

Michel Marc Bouchard

2023 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Theatre)Playwright, screenwriter, librettist and teacher

Michel Marc Bouchard’s bold poetic vision is universal and timeless in its exploration of human relationships, particularly the notion of the outsider and the queer universe. His plays have been translated into two dozen languages and performed around the world; several have been adapted for film. He has curated major historical and thematic exhibitions, and teaches regularly at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Mr. Bouchard was born in 1958 in Saint-Cœur-de-Marie, near Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec, and attributes his passion for theatre to that region’s strong oral tradition. He wrote his first play at age 14, and studied theatre at the University of Ottawa.

Read more a bout Michel on the GGPAA website here.

Molly Johnson

2023 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Popular Music)Singer–songwriter and humanitarian

Acclaimed as one of the best female jazz vocalists of our time, Molly Johnson has captivated audiences across Canada and Europe with her performances of jazz standards and original pieces. As the founding artistic director of Toronto’s Kensington Market Jazz Festival, she has helped hundreds of performers to flourish, and through her work as co-founder and producer of the Kumbaya Foundation, she has raised awareness of and funds for people living with HIV/AIDS. Always ready to speak out against racism and injustice, she has been actively involved with numerous charitable and service organizations.

Molly Johnson was born in 1959 in Toronto, to a white mother and a Black father. She began performing in the 1960s when she and her brother Clark were discovered by legendary impresario Ed Mirvish, and attended the National Ballet School before turning to songwriting. In the 1980s, she formed the rock band Alta Moda, later known as the Infidels (1990–1995), which won a Juno for Most Promising Group. She launched her jazz career after the dissolution of the Infidels.

Read more a bout Molly on the GGPAA website here.

James Kudelka

2023 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Dance)Choreographer

James Kudelka is among North America’s most versatile and innovative dance artists. His creative output reflects his eclectic interests, rich movement vocabulary, and theatrical sensitivity. His choreographic works range from recreations of full-length ballet classics (Swan LakeThe Nutcracker) to one-act creations that are rich in psychological implication and human drama. He has explored evolving dance and theatrical styles, and is equally at home working with solo artists, small contemporary troupes and large ballet companies.

Mr. Kudelka was born in 1955 in Newmarket, Ontario. Trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, he began choreographing as a student and continued throughout his dancing years with the National Ballet of Canada (NBoC, 1972–81) and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (1981–90), where he was also resident choreographer. He became the NBoC’s artist in residence in 1992, and, as artistic director (1996–2005), he revitalized the company, making it among the most creative in North America.

Read more a bout James on the GGPAA website here.

Rosemarie Landry

2023 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Classical Music)Soprano and voice teacher

Recognized worldwide as an exceptional interpreter of French vocal works and a leading authority on French-language music, soprano Rosemarie Landry has made a significant contribution to classical music and Canadian culture. She has performed internationally in recital, concert and opera, both live and on radio and television, and appeared with leading orchestras and at chamber music festivals. A respected professor at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), she also regularly gives masterclasses at renowned schools and universities around the world.

A native of Caraquet, New Brunswick, Ms. Landry was born in 1946 and studied in Montréal, Toronto, Québec and Paris. She is proud of her heritage: “Being Acadian is in my blood. My roots are not in the earth, but in the sea,” she says.

Read more a bout Rosemarie on the GGPAA website here.

k.d. lang

2023 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Popular Music)Singer–songwriter and activist

Singer–songwriter k.d. lang is known for her wide-ranging musical talent, distinctive and androgynous style, and hauntingly pure mezzo-soprano voice. She has played an important role in the recognition and development of country and popular music in Canada, and her unique creative contribution has added a new dimension to contemporary music. A noted activist, she publicly came out as a lesbian in the early 1990s and is a strong advocate for the gay rights movement, as well as for animal rights and HIV/AIDS care and research.

k.d. (Kathryn Dawn) lang was born in 1961, in Edmonton, and grew up in Consort, Alberta. After appearing in a college stage production based on the life of American country music legend Patsy Cline, she developed a deep interest in the singer. After graduating, she helped form the tribute band the Reclines. Their debut album, A Truly Western Experience (1984), was enthusiastically received and resulted in Ms. lang signing with a major record label.

Her impressive discography spans over three decades and comprises 13 studio albums, one soundtrack, two live albums, four compilation albums and 41 singles, ranging from country to pop and from punk to torch songs. Her 1992 release Ingénue (her first album without the Reclines) proved to be her breakthrough, thanks in part to the hit single “Constant Craving,” which introduced her to a wider audience. She has collaborated with such prominent artists as Roy Orbison (on the Grammy-winning duet “Crying”), Tony Bennett, Elton John, Neko Case and Laura Veirs, Jane Siberry, and country greats Loretta Lynn (Patsy Cline’s best friend), Brenda Lee and Kitty Wells. Her most recent release is Makeover (2021), a collection of classic dance remixes of some of her best-loved songs.

Read more a bout k.d. on the GGPAA website here.

John Kim Bell

2023 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing ArtsJohn Kim Bell is one of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous leaders. Widely recognized for his work as an activist, entrepreneur and fundraiser, he established the Indspire charitable organization and the Indspire Awards in celebration of Indigenous achievement. His creative vision, cultural leadership, inexhaustible energy and passionate commitment have earned him many awards and honours.

Mr. Bell was born on the Kahnawake Mohawk Reserve, near Montréal, to a Mohawk father and an American mother. His first career was as a conductor of Broadway musicals in New York. In 1980, he was appointed apprentice conductor of the Toronto Symphony, becoming the first person of Indigenous heritage to conduct a major orchestra.

Read more a bout John on the GGPAA website here.

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee

2023 National Arts Centre AwardActor, writer, comedian and geek

A versatile actor, writer, comedian and television host, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee is best known for his starring role as family patriarch Mr. Kim (“Appa”) in Korean–Canadian playwright Ins Choi’s hit play Kim’s Convenience (2011) and its hugely popular television adaptation (2016–21). The show brought the Korean–Canadian immigrant experience into the cultural conversation, first in Canada and then around the world, and established Mr. Lee as a model and an inspiration for a generation of Asian actors.

Mr. Lee was born in 1972 in Daejeon, South Korea; his family moved to Canada when he was three months old.

Of the international success of Kim’s Convenience, he says, “It was a little show that could. More than anything else, I think what it’s done is opened a lot of doors for other shows created and performed by BIPOC artists. One of Canada’s strengths has always been the diversity and the multiculturalism that we embrace, and that makes us stronger as a whole.”

Read more about Paul Sun-Hyung on the GGPAA website here.

And of course all of the many awards and recipients can be found on the website, and a huge congratulations to this year’s recipients. I am honoured to be celebrating with you this year and to showcase your talent for all to see!

This year’s laureates will be celebrated at the #GGAwards Gala, presented by @rbc, at the @nac.cna on Saturday, May 27. Tickets are on sale now at https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/33583 and I encourage all of you to get yours before it’s too late.

For those of you curious what your ticket entails, I’ve got the details for you.

6:30 pm: Wine and light canapés
7:00 pm: Red carpet arrivals
8:00 pm: Tribute performance

I think an important thing to note is that these awards are nominated by regular Canadians and we have so much power to celebrate our talent. The awards recognize work of an extraordinary nature and significance in the performing arts by an individual artist and/or company in the past performance year. Recipients are selected by the National Arts Centre. Click here to nominate!

If you’re not following me yet, find me at @dothedaniel on all social media platforms

Photos: Daniel Reyes Cocka and participating brands 

Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year 

Daniel Reyes Cocka xo 

*Please note that this may be a sponsored post and promotional consideration may have been offered by participating brands – our disclosure can be found at all times by clicking here.