And the winners are … Gonzo Okanagan People’s Choice Music Awards 2023

And the winners are …

Check out the photo gallery below!

Kelowna, BC – The inaugural Gonzo Okanagan People’s Choice Music Awards 2023, held on June 16th at Sunset Ranch and Golf Club in Kelowna, BC, was a tremendous success. The red-carpet event, with master of ceremonies Sydney Morton of CHBC Global Okanagan, attracted many from the Music industry from all over the Thompson Okanagan valley to celebrate.

The evening included performances by Dirt Road Opera, Rhindress, and Leila Neverland. With special guest comedian David Kopp from In between entertainment, the people’s choice awards were presented to the ultimate favourites in 19 music industry categories.

“It went better than expected for a first-time event,” Organizer Brad Krauza stated. “The incredible energy of having all these extraordinary musicians in one place was uplifting. The comradery, the love, and the support for one another created something more than I could have ever imagined. It was a phenomenal night!”

The big winner of the night was Dirt Road Opera—led by Juno nominees Barry Mathers and Rachel Matkin—who brought home six awards, winning every category they were nominated in: Favourite Album for Nowheversville, Favourite Country Group, Favourite Folk/Roots Group, Favourite Single for Seven Shells, Favourite Music Video for Tell the Truth, and Favourite Songwriter, won by the band’s founder Barry Mathers.

Many of the winners gave heartfelt speeches. Thanking their fans for all the support they received.

BCCMA (BC Country Music Association) award-winning country music artist Ben Klick won the award for Favourite Humanitarian or Influential Industry Person, giving an emotional speech. “I run this thing, Music Fest MS, on behalf of my father,” he stated. Music Fest MS is the largest community-run benefit concert in support of Multiple Sclerosis in Canada and takes place annually in BC.

The award show also acknowledged and brought recognition to young musicians just breaking into the music scene. With the winners of the Young Musician or Group award going to teenage rockers Freeze the Fall. “I think I am going to cry,” said 16-year-old Quinn as she stepped up to the mic.

The dynamism of the event continued well after, with social media buzzing with congratulations and enthusiasm.

“Well done, Brad [Krauza] and crew.” Posted nominee Cathy-Ann Peros Wells, “So well organized. And Leila [Neverland], just WOW!”

Although a spotlight was put on Brad Krauza for organizing the event, he reminds us that it took a dedicated team to create the successful event.

“Thank you to my partner, Kinga Heming, and team, Angie Clowry, Shawna Whitney, Olivia Behrens & Raph, Wendy Krauza & Dian Henderson, the outstanding sound and lighting crew from Skaha Sound, as well as the staff from Sunset Ranch Golf Course, Paula, Danny, and staff!” said Krauza.

“Also, I couldn’t have made this year’s awards success possible without the incredible work ethic and passion for our music scene from Teena Clipston. I was not planning on going to the extent we did until she came along. She gave me confidence that we could pull it off, and we did just that.”

Congratulations go out to all the 2023 winners.

  • Favourite Album by Group or Artist Sponsored by Bracken Insurance Services Ltd: Dirt Road Opera for Nowheresville
  • Favourite Venue Supporting Live Music Sponsored by Skaha Sound: Runaways Lounge in Kelowna
  • Favourite Young Musician or Group Sponsored by Bracken Insurance Services Ltd: Freeze the Fall
  • Favourite Blues Group or Artist: Rick Halisheff
  • Favourite Country Group or Artist Sponsored by Sakamoto Agency: Dirt Road Opera
  • Favourite Cover Band or Artist Sponsored by LMS Entertainment: The Young’Uns
  • Favourite Female Artist: Leila Neverland
  • Favourite Folk / Roots Group or Artist: Dirt Road Opera
  • Favourite Hip Hop / Reggae Group or Artist: DLopez
  • Favourite Humanitarian or Influential Industry Person: Ben Klick
  • Favourite Jazz Group or Artist: KINGA
  • Favourite Male Artist: Jeff Piattelli
  • Favourite Metal / Hard Music Group or Artist: Freeze the Fall
  • Favourite Music Teacher: Kim Rhindress from Kelowna’s Voice Lab
  • Favourite Music Video by Group or Artist: Dirt Road Opera for Tell the Truth
  • Favourite Recording Engineer: Jimmy LeGuilloux
  • Favourite Rock / Pop Group or Artist: Andrew Allen
  • Favourite Single (Best Song) by Group or Artist: Dirt Road Opera for Seven Shells
  • Favourite Songwriter(s): Barry Mathers

The award show is part of a two-day annual music festival that also features the Gonzo Okanagan Music Industry Golf Tournament and GonzoFest concert. These events help raise money for community music programs through the Gonzo Fundraising Association—whose purpose is artist and event, development, and production.

For more information or to participate in the 2024 awards show email us at

A few amazing testimonials

There’s nothing like being able to give back to the musicians who give us so much. Year after year these musicians pour their hearts out to us in songs that have become the soundtrack of the Okanagan.

Of course, you can support your favourite musicians by going to their concerts, buying their albums  and sending them a kind note. But why not take that support to the next level? That’s exactly what the Gonzo Okanagan People’s Choice Music Awards accomplished. Giving fans the opportunity to go the extra mile to nominate and vote for not only their favourite musicians but also their favourite venues, teachers and music industry professionals.

In its first year Brad Krauza accomplished something incredible; giving out 19 awards to some of the top musicians that were voted for by more than 3,000 people.  I can only imagine this event as well as the number of awards given out will grow. This was clearly something special that has been missing in the Thompson Okanagan music scene.

I am honoured to have been asked to be the host of the first event and represent Global Okanagan. Sharing the stories behind the music has been one of the highlights of my career so far. There’s not much out there that I love more than live music, except maybe my cat. Sydney Morton, Community Reporter at Global Okanagan.

On behalf of the Headpins camp I want to thank you for inviting us to GonzoFest. Your production crews calm and relaxed demeanor contributed to a flawless and stress free Headpins performance. Congratulations to you and your team and for your tireless support of local talent. The Headpins

The Gonzo People’s Choice Music Award show was an absolute treat to attend and a very welcomed community builder for the local music scene. There was a great vibe in the air and was awesome to see so many different talents and styles get recognized. I can’t wait will next year! Jeff Piattelli

The Gonzo People’s Choice Awards are a huge benefit for our musical community by shining a light on the immense amount of talent we have in our valley. Bringing musicians, venues, and fans together for a night of community spirit and comradery. Rick ‘Poppa Dawg’ Halisheff

The Okanagan music scene is flourishing as evident Friday night at the Gonzo Music Awards Gala attended by a large and diverse cross section of local artists and fans. From the red carpet gala to the music festival stage, live performances and hosting, it was class all the way. Congratulations to Gonzo for celebrating a necessary and important component to enjoyment of life in the Okanagan – live music! We are diverse, thriving and so grateful for the acknowledgment and support of venues and fans. Kim Rhindress – Kelowna Voice Lab

The Gonzo Music Awards were a breath of fresh air for anyone who has ever attended an award show. Fast paced, full of music and laughter, and supported by the community it represents. Well done. David Kopp of Kelowna Comedy

The flawlessly executed G.O. People’s Choice Awards held at the Sunset Ranch Golf Course this year, reminded me of a really important part of what makes the music industry go: good old fashioned togetherness. I am still so humbly tickled to be honoured and elevated as one of several leading female artists in our industry, and am hugely grateful to the Awards’ Gala team for bringing us all – industry leaders, fellow artists, fans, and old friends – together again! Thanks y’all!! Love Leila Neverland

Check out a few of our great shots from the awards night. Please note that all images are copyrights of Gonzo Okanagan. Feel free to share but please do not crop out the awards logo. Thank you. 😉

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