In January 2002, CBC Radio One put out the call for unsigned bands to send in their best material.
The winners were offered a national audience, a professional recording session and a chance to be on the nationally distributed BIG BREAK CD.
More than 1,800 artists submitted.
"Big Break is something that no one else in Canada is doing, and it solidifies CBC Radio as a vital part of the emerging music scene, both on a community and a national level," says Bill Stunt, BIG BREAK project coordinator and host/producer of BANDWIDTH, CBC Radio One's Saturday afternoon music show in Ontario.
"This project is part of a long-term effort to develop new talent, bring new music to Canadians and to create great radio. The talent pool is so deep in this country that we're still playing songs from bands who didn't even make it to the finals - bands who wouldn't have had an opportunity at radio airplay before this."
Partnering with campus and community radio, CBC Radio's DEFINITELY NOT THE OPERA crossed the country to broadcast concerts with the finalists in each region. From those concerts, radio listeners choose a winner in each region.
THE BIG BREAK CD brings together these five regional winners, along with their musical mentors. The winners are: Nathan Wiley from Atlantic Canada, Offsides from Quebec, Microbunny from Ontario, Nathan from the Prairies and Mount Pleasant from the Pacific.
After getting their "Big Break" thanks to CBC Radio, all five of the winners have gone on to more success. Nathan Wiley, from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, won the East Coast Music Award for Alternative Artist of the Year and is signed to Sonic Records, distributed through Universal Music. He'll appear on the CBC Newsworld program PLAY on Thursday, May 29th.
Offsides and Microbunny are both now preparing their new releases. Nathan are currently recording their new CD with Toronto producer John Switzer and plan to tour the summer festival circuit. Mount Pleasant have become The Years and are recording new demos just as they hope to announce a new recording deal.