Brotherhood was a recurring theme among those who stood at the podium last night during the 18th annual Lehigh Valley Music Awards.
That camaraderie and community spirit continued well after the last award was handed out. Such positivity is always a good thing.
Since the ceremony ended roughly 24 hours ago, my social media newsfeed has been overflowing with congratulatory statuses, tweets and Instagram pics.
Singer-songwriter Scott Marshall, for the second year in a row, swept the awards with 12 wins, out 13 nominations -- including Outstanding Male Vocalist and All Around Performer. For those keeping score at home, newcomers Jordyn Kenzie and Julie Williams, folk singer Dave Fry and rock band The Cherry Bombs each walked away with two awards.
Marshall also performed with Kenzie and fellow multiple nominee Chelsea Lyn Meyer. The trio rolled through acoustic versions of The Beatles' "Come Together" -- an appropriate song choice given the mood of the night -- and Marshall's song "Shine."
Marshall is a talented, hard-working musician and a genuinely nice guy. He deserves to be recognized.
However, the record-breaking sweep did get me thinking.
How does one level a playing field crammed with acts who have maybe a year's worth (or less) of gigs under their belt competing, in a sense, against those who have been building a fan base for a decade (or more)? Where does the line between popularity contest and rewarding accomplishments become blurred?
I do not have the answer. And I'm not sure if there even is an easy, clearly-defined solution.
Regardless of whose name is read aloud, it becomes hard not to wonder why so many equally deserving musicians went home empty-handed.
This is not sour grapes.
I, too, was nominated for four awards and did not win. Was it a bit of a bummer? Sure. But like so many others who have posted, tweeted and shared the sentiment, I am grateful, humbled, and appreciative of being nominated. It truly is an honor to be grouped in so with so many gifted individuals.
The show itself was not without its share of reminders of just how rich the area is with talent and musical diversity. Percussionist Hector Rosado and his Latin Jazz Experience, violinist Nyk Van Wyke -- who received a standing ovation for his effort -- and heavy-metal band Another Day Dawns were the standouts.
Watching so many up-and-comers share the stage with seasoned pros was refreshing, to say the least.
It should also be noted that this year's crop of nominees, in this writer's opinion, was the most diverse and representative yet of who is turning heads and making noise in the area. There were a few bands who were surprisingly absent from that list (*cough*Slingshot Dakota*cough*), but, hey, it's a step in the right direction.
Hopefully that representation is carried over to the winner's circle in 2018.