The Maritime Music Awards (later called the East Coast Music Awards — ECMAs, in 1991) were first staged at the Flamingo Café and Lounge in Halifax. There were nine award categories. Musician John Gracie was the inaugural winner for Male Artist of the Year in 1989. Gracie commented of the first ECMA event in 1991; “I remember…the first year the (ECMAs) awards were held at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. Andree (Gracie’s wife) and I were front and centre at the Cohn, and I looked to my left and sitting next to me that night was Gene MacLellan, who was presenting an award. … Shortly after, he passed away, and I ended up doing a tribute album to him. It was the first and only time I met him. He was great songwriter.” (Photo: John Gracie. JohnGracie.ca).