7000apart, Unity the Band, Kurt Gunn among the big winners

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Artists from the Green Bay and Fox Valley area took home four of the night’s top honors at the 40th Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards on Sunday in Milwaukee.

Unity the Band won the first artist of the year award. Menasha’s roots reggae group is led by Kai “Pita” Katobalavu, who started the group in 2002 after moving to Wisconsin from his native Fiji. The band performs across the state and as far away as Florida. A Sunday night concert in Sister Bay prevented them from attending the awards ceremony at the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee.

Green Bay pop duo 7000apart was named New Artist of the Year. Husband and wife Amelie Eiding and Jon Kresin first met in a music theory class at Preble High School, where Eiding was a Swedish exchange student when Kresin was in his final year. They built an following not only locally but in Sweden, where they appeared on “Sweden’s Got Talent” in 2020.

De Pere’s Kurt Gunn was named singer-songwriter of the year. Her album, “Northern Town”, was also nominated for Album of the Year. On his Facebook page, Gunn wrote that he was unable to attend the ceremony for medical reasons. He thanked former WAPL-FM personality Len Nelson, “my friend and longtime supporter,” for accepting the award on his behalf.

Fox Cities Acoustic Artist Lilie Fouts was named Rising Star of the Year.

Milwaukee bands Black Belt Theater and Rose of the West won Album of the Year and Song of the Year for “Power Petting” and “Love Lies Bleeding” respectively.

RELATED: Meet 7000apart, the Green Bay pop duo with a Preble love story and international following

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Amelie Eiding and Jon Kresin are a Green Bay based husband and wife pop duo, 7000 apart.  They met while she was an exchange student from Sweden at Preble High School.

The 40th WAMI Awards were originally scheduled for April 2020 but have been pushed back 18 months by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremony also included the induction of four acts into the WAMI Hall of Fame.

  • Semi-Twang, the Americana group led by Milwaukee singer-songwriter John Sieger, released the album “Salty Tears” on Warner Bros. Records in 1988.
  • Pioneer thresher Viola Smith of Mount Calvary died in 2020 at the age of 107.
  • Kevn Kinney, originally from Milwaukee, is also in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with his southern rock band Drivin N Cryin.
  • R&B group The Esquires, formed in 1957 in Milwaukee, achieved national successes in the late 1960s and early 1970s with “Get on Up” and “Girls in the City”.

Winners of the WAMI Awards

  • Artist of the Year: Unity the Band
  • Album of the Year: “Power Petting”, Black Belt Theater
  • Song of the Year: “Love Lies Bleeding”, Rose of the West
  • New Artist of the Year: 7000apart
  • Male Singer of the Year: Bobby Rouse
  • Female singer of the year: Jennifer Schafer
  • Singer-Songwriter of the Year: Kurt Gunn
  • Rising Star of the Year: Lilie Fouts
  • Alternative rock artist: Marielle Allschwang & the Visitations
  • Bluegrass / Americana Artist: Them Coulee Boys
  • Christian artist / evangelist: Samuel Elias
  • Blues artist: The Jay Stulo Band
  • Country artist: Buffalo Gospel
  • Cover Artist: Almighty Vinyl
  • Folk / Celtic Artist: The Roving Scallywags
  • Hard Rock Artist: Last Crack
  • Metal artist: Morta Skuld
  • Punk artist: IfIHadAHiFi
  • Jazz artist: Mr. President
  • Polka Artist: Stas Venglevski
  • Pop-rock artist: Rose of the West
  • Hip-hop / rap artist: Klassik
  • R & B / Soul Artist: Bryon Cherry
  • World / reggae / ska / latin: something to do
  • Club / DJ / dance / electronic artist: DJ Bizzon
  • Horn / Big Band Artist: Stephen Cooper and the Nobody Famous
  • Tribute artist: The Docksiders
  • Bass: Cédric LeMoyne
  • Drummer: Mike Malone
  • Guitarist: Sean Williamson
  • Keyboard: Joe Hite
  • Reeds / Brass: Matt Antoniewicz
  • Strings: Tim McIlere
  • Best Studio Engineer / Producer: Eric LaBrosse
  • Best recording studio: Kneeverland Productions
  • Best club / performance venue: The Saloon sur Calhoun
  • Best Live Sound / Light Engineer: Craig Vetrone
  • President’s Award: Geoff Landon
  • Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): Tangled Lines
  • Radio Station (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): 102.9 The Hog
  • Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): Brenda Blackhalo
  • Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): Marty Morgan
  • Musical Venue of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): The Saloon on Calhoun
  • Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): This’ 90s band
  • Radio Station (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): 101 WIXX
  • Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): Doris Budwit
  • Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): Renee Millard
  • Music Venue of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): Stone Toad Bar & Grill
  • Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): The Dweebs
  • Radio Station (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): 92.9 The X
  • Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): Chris Evanston
  • Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): Victoria Shoemaker
  • Music Venue of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): Schuggy’s
  • Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Southwest Quadrant): Cherry Pie
  • Radio Station (People’s Choice Quadrant Southwest): 101.5 WIBA
  • Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Southwest Quadrant): Kati Schirmer
  • Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Southwest Quadrant): Tara Imhof
  • Musical Venue of the Year: Fawn Creek Winery
  • Hall of Fame: Viola Smith, Semi-Twang, The Esquires, Kevn Kinney
  • Wall of Honor: Madison Area Music Association, Eddie Butts, Bob Babisch, Vic Thomas, Marilynn Mee, Gary Shaw

Contact Kendra Meinert at 920-431-8347 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.



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