Country Music Association of Ontario Announces New Board of Directors

Story by Natasha Slinko

Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) hosted their Annual General Meeting at the Victoria and Albert Pub in Scarborough Ontario this past Sunday.  After a short meet and greet, the CMAO moved forward with the agenda to elect the new blood for the board.

The CMAO is a very dedicated group of music industry professionals that founded and now serve on this board and it is through their hard work and dedication that the CMAO is what it is today.  In a short time they have built up a membership of over 400 and still counting and are fostering relations with all aspects the Canadian Country music world.

The goal of the Country Music Association of Ontario is to foster and support the growth and development of Country Music in Ontario, for managers, artists, singers, songwriters, musicians, bands  promoting the incredible talent we have here not only in Ontario, but across Canada. CMAO promotes the various genres of country music that encompasses country, folk, alternative, bluegrass, roots and Canadiana.
The CMAO is happy to have now expanded the new Board of Directors to include music industry veterans who will bring their expertise and knowledge to the table to further the growth of this organization. The CMAO is dedicated to expanding it's membership to further enhance the networking and participation of the Canadian country music scene.  education and encouraging creativity and the unique contributions of the entire country music industry. 

In the words of the newly appointed President Heather Ostertag "I am inspired by the calibre and enthusiasm of the new Board and look forward to accomplishing great things in the months and the years ahead.  This is truly a dedicated and professional group of people who are likeminded in the goals for the CMAO.'

The New Board of Directors are:

Brian Allen, newly elected board member is a veteran of the music business his first successful venture was as a member and principal songwriter for the band Toronto in the '80s, logging 4 platinum albums.Following the band's breakup, Brian saw success as a co-writer of "What About Love" which propelled Heart to a 10 million seller. Attic Records then recruited Brian as head of A&R, a post he held for 15 years. During his A&R tenure, Brian doubled as producer for a select number of artists on the Attic roster, which yielded 2 double platinum albums each for Lee Aaron and Haywire. Brian's latest productions include Marshall Dane and Darrelle London. Currently in the works are productions from Roveena and Mike Lynch. Brian has earned 25 gold, platinum and special achievement awards as an artist, producer, songwriter and his A&R duties.


Sam Arraj, newly elected Treasuer is a Chartered Account  has years of experience auditing the financial statements and filing annual returns for charities and Not-for-profit organizations. He brings the important ability to develop and maintain an accounting system that is well suited for a not-for-profits -- and one that conforms to the Canadian Accounting Standards. Sam holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and experience in providing consulting services through work at various companies such as Bennett Gold. He also brings a computer programming diploma, along with the knowledge to work in advanced computerized environments.


Catherine Faint, newly elected board member, owns and operates CFE Inc. (Catherine Faint Entertainment).She started her 35 year music career as an agent back in the '70's. As head of the country division for 'The Agency', she worked with many of Canada's top country artists. She was very humbled to receive Booking Agent of the Year from 1994 through 1998 for her work ensuring Canadian artists were being showcased both nationally and internationally. Soon thereafter, Catherine created CFE Inc. expanding her entertainment services to include production services for many corporate and live events. It was not long before Casino Rama and Fallsview Casino became clients and special events and labour requests allowed the company to grow, now employing more than 100 people. Catherine has continued to stay connected in the Canadian Country music business, serving on the Awards and Balloting committee, attending Country Music Week annually and, just last year, sponsoring the All-Star Band Awards in Edmonton.


Wendell Ferguson, newly elected board member started playing guitar at 7 years old. As he says, "It's taken me over 40 years to become a child prodigy." He's played and recorded with some major names in the business, straddling several genres: Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks, Gordon Lightfoot, Sylvia Tyson, Keith Urban, Jane Siberry, Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris,  Quartette, Terri Clark, Tommy Emmanuel, Paul Brandt, Bob Snider, Suzie Vinnick, Lynn Miles, Prairie Oyster... the list is endless. He's won the CCMA Guitar Player of the Year 6 times (1995 to 2001), eceived a Juno nomination for his band Coda the West, plus his live CD "The $#!T Hits The Fans" was nominated for the Album of the Year (2006 CCMAs). "Menage A Moi" his first all instrumental CD won the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for "Best Instrumental Album".


Sandy Graham, newly elected board member is a seasoned music industry professional, with experience in radio, records, live entertainment and brand/image marketing. With years as a Music Director and broadcaster in the major market in Montreal, Quebec, Graham has experience with the francophone and English music fields. She was also Eastern Promotion Director for BMG (RCA) Records, produced major live events (1050 CHUM, Skydome, March of Dimes, Tall Ships in Toronto) owned and operated nightclubs (Route 66, Arnold's, O'Toole's, The Horseshoe Tavern). Graham worked with major legacy artists (The Hollies, Hall & Oates, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Bobby Curtola, KC & The Sunshine Band, Andy Kim) and was contracted as a Choregrapher and Musicologist for Atlantis Films. Currently she holds the position of Editor-In-Chief and COO of the music industry icon, Cashbox Canada and is CEO of Entertainment Music Group.


Julia Train, newly elected board member is currently administration and communication director at the Musicians Rights Organization of Canada (MROC). Her fascination with music began young. At age 3, Julia studied classical piano at the Toronto Faculty of Music and went on to earn her grade seven certification at the Royal Conservatory of Music. From there, she went on to complete a Recording Arts Management Program at the Harris Institute of the Arts. After graduation, she worked at the CMRRA (Canadian Reproduction Rights Agency) as an online licensing administrator and in the Royalty Administrations Department in the DNR (Do Not Represent) Department. After just two years at the CMRRA, she was given the opportunity to work at FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings) starting in the submissions department and quickly working her way up to become Manager of Communications.

After the Annual General Meeting the newly elected Board had their first meeting.  Barry Haugen has been leading the charge of this incredible team and the Board thanked him for  all his hard  work and dedicated service as President and founding member of the CMAO.  Barry will take on the role of Past-President and will continue to serve and promote the CMAO.   Barry is handing over the reins to newly elected president Heather Ostertag, who will now be leading the current team of incredible individuals.  We are most fortunate in that the following board members have agreed to commit to serving for another term in their present and new roles.


Barry Haugen, Past-President has spent over 40 years as a tireless promoter of Canadian country music. While at RCA Records and later BMG Music Canada, he was pivotal in boosting the careers of such Canadian country legends as Carroll Baker. The Family Brown, Dick Damron, The Mercey Brothers, Ronnie Prophet, The Good Brothers and many more.   Barry was a founding member of The Academy of Country Music Entertainment which later evolved into the Canadian Country Music Association. He served as a director for two terms and was co-chair of the committee which created the categories and criteria for the CCMA Awards.  Since retiring from BMG, Barry has remained involved with Canada's country community as a private consultant. Barry will continue to serve on the Board.


Heather Ostertag, President - With over three decades of working in the not-for-profit sector of the Canadian music industry, Heather Ostertag has earned her respected Industry profile.    She began her career in Canadian music in 1977 as the administration manager at the Canadian Talent Library (CTL). After CTL merged with FACTOR in 1986, Heather assumed several executive positions before being appointedPresident in 1999 and then CEO 2006. Currently, FACTOR operates with just over $16 million in annual funding.   Heather serves as a member of the National Advisory Board for the Aboriginal Music Awards, and is the past chair of the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA).  In 2003, Heather was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of all the volunteer work she has done on behalf of the Canadian music industry. Currently Heather operates her own consulting company Heather Ostertag and Associates.


Anya Wilson, 1st Vice President, is the founder and President of Anya Wilson Promotion & Publicity, one of Canada's leading radio promotions and marketing agencies.   Over the years, Anya has represented such artists as David Bowie and Paul McCartney, T.Rex, Yes and Bryan Adams in the UK. In Canada, George Canyon, Hey Romeo. Jo Hikk, Julian Austin, Deric Ruttan, Shari Lynn, John McDermott, Kenny Rogers, Patricia Conroy, Jimmy Buffett and Michelle Wright as well as TNN/CMT in the U.S.  Prior to forming her own company in Canada, Anya handled national media campaigns for Nana Mouskouri and Johnny Cash.


Bruce Good, 2nd  Vice President. - After more than three decades, Bruce Good continues to perform with his twin brother Brian, and younger brother Larry, in one of Canada's best known country acts, The Good Brothers.  Renowned for a unique blend of country, rock and bluegrass, The Good Brothers have garnered numerous Big Country Awards (predecessor of the CCMA Awards) as well as 8 Juno Awards for Country Group of The Year.  In 2004, The Good Brothers were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The band continues to tour and record and this spring will mark their 32nd tour of Europe.


Jeff Sheppard, Secretary is a fresh face in the Country Music scene. Starting out as just a music fan and is now working hand in hand with Sudbury, Ontario based recording artist Larry Berrio as his manager. Not only is Jeff working with Larry Berrio, he is also a real estate professional in Waterloo Region, working for Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty. These have both been recent career changes for Jeff; he spent his last 10 plus years working in the transportation industry.   Over the past few years Jeff has also been volunteering on committees for KW Oktoberfest, The KW Real Estate Board and the Kitchener/Waterloo Chamber of Commerce/ Jeff now looks forward to bringing some of his passion to the CMAO.


The Board also would like to thank Peter Linseman and Terry Fernihough for their dedicated service to the CMAO. Both Terry and Peter are committed to continuing to help build the CMAO and will serve on various committees as time permits.  Thank you for your time, commitment and dedication to this very important time in the building up of the CMAO.

After the board meeting concluded, Heather Ostertag hosted a wine and cheese for the newly elected Board to give everyone a chance to relax and  get to know each other and plan for the future. This is one incredible and dynamic group of individuals that will bring Country Music in Ontario to the forefront. 

Cashbox Canada would like to congratulate the new Board of Directors and wish them all the success for this much needed organization to move forward.

The CMAO continues to be the voice of Ontario Country artists and needs your support.  To become a member and support this great organization and the dedicated people that are working so hard to ensure its success, please go to  Your support will truly make a difference.