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East Coast Music Association welcomes new CEO

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The East Coast Music Association will be entering a new era on March 1 under the leadership of a different CEO.

Blanche Israël is a cultural strategist and professional musician who has French-Canadian and Moroccan roots.

Israël is stepping up as Chief Executive Officer after Andy MacLean departed in 2023. MacLean was the CEO for nine years.

She says having a bilingual person in the role of CEO helps bring representation to the French parts of Atlantic Canada.

“We have a province in the Atlantic region that is our only bilingual province in Canada, which is New Brunswick, and I think it’s important, not only important, but crucial, essential to properly represent,” says Israël in an interview with CTV News on Friday.

“It’s not just in New Brunswick. There are communities that float across all of the provinces that are not bound by that particular province’s borders and the Acadian communities all over the East Coast.”

Israël is a professional cellist who has toured in eight countries and between 50 to 60 places around Canada from 2018 to 2020. Much of that was on the East Coast, as she works closely with New Brunswick artist Jeremy Dutcher.

While she has lived in many places across the world, she says she tends to gravitate back to the East Coast.

“One of my earlier memories is going to P.E.I. I’ve spent some time in Cape Breton doing fiddle camp when I was 10 and 11. And then I’ve come back over and over as a young adult for conferences and meeting up with friends. I did a motorcycle road trip across Atlantic Canada, and I’ve just fallen in love with it,” she says.

Overall, she says it was the warmth of the people that made her want to move to Atlantic Canada.

“The warmth of the people here is something people around the world talk about. I think that we have something special here, that the world has good will towards and is interested in, and artists radiate that out, that we are the cultural ambassadors of the culture that’s here,” she says.

As for starting as CEO, she says she will be starting off with lots on her plate, especially with the East Coast Music Awards coming up in May.

“I’m just excited to watch. I mean it’s in the can. It’s ready to go and I get to go and just enjoy it and take it all in and breath it in,” Israël says.

“I’ll also be in P.E.I. for my first week for Music PEI, so we’ll be hitting the ground running.”

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