Coveted, sought-after and long-awaited — there’s no tribute to talent quite like an awards show. And in terms of local talent, look no further than the upcoming Boston Music Awards, which will highlight musicians throughout the Commonwealth.
The Boston Music Awards has been celebrating local musicians since 1987, and the awards are a historic and celebrated part of the Boston music scene. This year’s nominees were announced Sept. 25 and voting closed Nov. 1.
Each year, local artists and their work are nominated for a variety of categories, such as Alt/Indie Artist of the Year, Recording Studio of the Year, Music Journalist of the Year and the typical Song of the Year. Winners of the 34th annual ceremony will be announced on the award show’s website on Dec. 11.
Notable recurring winners from recent years include Cousin Stizz and Clairo, who are both nominated this year as well. Truly historic music acts, including rock group Aerosmith and singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, were honored for the award’s first year in 1987.
One of this year’s nominees, electronic pop artist Leo the Kind, is becoming part of the tradition he grew up admiring.
As a local self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist and music producer nominated for three awards — Dance/Electronic Artist of the Year, Pop Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year — Leo the Kind wrote in an Instagram direct message the nominations mean a lot to him.
“I always knew that one day I’d be making my own waves but for a while I felt like nobody noticed what I was doing,” Leo the Kind wrote. “This nomination alone is a message to me. I finally feel recognized.”
Another Pop Artist of the Year nominee, Yavin, said he feels similar sentiments. The 24-year-old local pop artist has been making music in Boston for two years and describes the nomination experience as “really, really cool.”
“I think it’s a testament to how far I’ve come,” Yavin said. “This feels like my first time really being seen by the [Boston] scene.”
Yavin also recorded a 617Session, a program in which a handful of Boston artists earn free studio time and collaborate with a sound engineer to record a song, stream it and keep all the song’s royalties. Ten artists, including Yavin, were nominated for a BMA for 617Sessions Artist of the Year.
In regard to his fellow nominees, Yavin said he’s in good company — he felt honored to be recognized alongside other prominent local artists who have made a name for themselves nationally.
“When I saw that I was also nominated for Pop Artist of the Year, I was like ‘Woah, okay, that’s pretty big,’” Yavin said. “Especially because I’m a huge Clairo fan … it feels like kind of a flex.”
Liz Bills is a local musician with a deep and varied history in music, having previously played in both folk and rock collectives. Having won Roots Act of the Year at the 2019 New England Music Awards with her band Liz Bills and The Change, Bills has since gone solo and was nominated for the BMA’s Singer-Songwriter of the Year.
Bills said she had to struggle to rise to her current prominence, and this nomination validates her place in the industry and the city.
“Becoming a singer-songwriter has not been easy, and it hasn’t always felt natural,” Bills said. “It feels good to get that kind of nod and to be seen in that community that I respect so much. It’s an honor.”
In the years before the pandemic, the awards were celebrated in person at the House of Blues with live performances from the nominees. This year, the artists and the people behind the awards are doing their best to still have fun while celebrating over the screen.
The history and power of the award showcase, however, is still important to nominated artists. Yavin said he’s seen the BMAs live before he himself was recognized.
“It’s kind of a bummer that I don’t get to get the full experience of being there as a nominee at The House of Blues, which is my favorite venue,” Tavin said. “Hopefully I’ll be nominated again next year, and we’ll get the full experience next time.”
Leo the Kind wrote he enjoys the feeling of community and pride that the music awards bring.
“I love my city, I’m proud to be from here,” Leo the Kind wrote, “and I want the world to see what comes out of our city.”