Grad starts career with award

Peggy Revell

Taking her first few steps down a career path into the music industry, Fort Frances native Jessica George already has been recognized nationally as a recipient of the MusiCounts Fred Sherratt Award.
“It was really awesome because I actually didn’t even realize that it was an award,” George said about her reaction to learning she was to be a recipient of the award that recognizes 12 “outstanding post-secondary graduates” of Canadian music programs.
“I didn’t even know it existed,” she admitted. “It wasn’t something I was working towards, I had no idea about it.”
George had just graduated in April from the year-long Recording Arts Management program from the Harris Institute in Toronto and was on the job hunt when she got the news.
“I was sitting on my couch looking for jobs, very down on myself, wondering where the hell I was going in my life and I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, you just won $3,500 and an award,’” she recalled.
“It was pretty awesome.
“And I mean, for not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, making a decision to go into the musical field only like a year ago, it was really great to be recognized so soon out of the gate,” she added.
The annual award is presented by MusiCounts—a music education charity associated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences—to 12 post-secondary graduates from Canadian music programs.
The award was established in 2007 in honour of Fred Sherratt, who worked with CHUM Ltd. for many years and has been the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards, including an induction into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1995, the Ted Rogers Sr./Velma Rogers Graham award in 1993, and an Ontario Association of Broadcasters’ inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
The award is based on excellence in musical education and leadership role, explained George, noting the music schools have to nominate which students they would like to see recognized.
George was the top honours graduate from the Harris Institute for her class.
“We did all sorts of things,” she said of the year-long diploma program.
“First semester was an introduction to the music industry and then for the rest of the year, we split off into our own groups and I did the management stream.
“So it was a lot of how to be a booking agent, how to a publisher, how to be an artist manager, how to be basically anything like that.
“Anything you could possibly think of that you would need somebody with a business mind in the music industry, they taught us how to do it,” she added.
Since graduating and receiving the award, George has remained in Toronto and gone on to find employment with FACTOR (the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings) as a submissions co-ordinator.
“What FACTOR is—the federal government, the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Music Fund, and the Canadian Broadcasting Association­—they pool their money and give the money to FACTOR to distribute to worthy artists,” George explained.
She noted music artists have to apply for this funding, which can go towards such things as recording, touring, and marketing, as well as towards labels and marketing companies.
“Basically, my job is to take in the applications and decide which applications are worthy and which ones aren’t.
“And then of the worthy ones, I set up juries and send the packages to the juries, and then the juries decide how much money each artist should get.”
While she’s just out of the gates, the future is wide open for George in the music industry.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at the time,” she admitted, referring to why she first entered into the field.
“But when it came down to it, I knew the one thing that I did love was music.
“I have no musical talent, except I can listen, and I kind of know how to dance—so that seemed to be the right calling to me,” George reasoned.
“So I’m not exactly sure where I want to be in the music business, but it’s an adventure.
“We’ll see where it takes me,” she enthused.