Restrictions might have taken the golden anniversary of Canada’s music awards from the stages of Toronto to CBC Gem, but the spirit of celebration was in full force as the JUNO Awards were celebrated this past weekend.
Beginning with a blistering first night of award announcements and special performances Friday night, the JUNO Opening Night Awards revealed the winners of 37 awards, and honoured Gary Slaight, recipient of the MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award, and Pegi Cecconi, the recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.
The big winner of the night was Scarborough’s own superstar, the Weeknd, who took home three trophies for Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year for his album, After Hours, and Songwriter of the Year and Single of the Year for his international smash hit, “Blinding Lights.”
Performances for the broadcast that was streamed across Canada through CBC Music YouTube and CBC Gem streaming included Reggae Recording of the Year nominees Ammoye, Kirk Diamond and, this year’s winner, TÖME, Breakthrough Group of the Year winners, Crown Lands, Francophone Album of the Year nominee, Klô Pelgag, a special collaboration by Country Album of the Year nominees, Lindsay Ell and MacKenzie Porter, Rap Recording of the Year winner, TOBi and the 2020/2021 Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class short list winners, MONOWHALES.
The complete list winners announced during the JUNO Opening Night Awards were:
ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR Ruthless JJ Wilde
ALBUM ARTWORK OF THE YEAR NOTRE-DAME-DES-SEPT-DOULEURS Klô Pelgag
CONTEMPORARY R&B RECORDING OF THE YEAR After Hours The Weeknd
CHILDREN’S ALBUM OF THE YEAR Heart Parade Splash’N Boots
BREAKTHROUGH GROUP OF THE YEAR Crown Lands
CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: VOCAL OR CHORAL Massenet: Thaïs Erin Wall, Joshua Hopkins, Andrew Staples, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with Toronto Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Sir Andrew Davis)
GROUP OF THE YEAR Arkells
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR “NO ONE’S IN THE ROOM” Emma Higgins (Jessie Reyez)
JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR: SOLO Elegant Traveler Jocelyn Gould
REGGAE RECORDING OF THE YEAR “I Pray” TÖME x Sean Kingston
ADULT CONTEMPORARY ALBUM OF THE YEAR Such Pretty Forks in the Road Alanis Morissette
ALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR Pray For It July Talk
WORLD MUSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR Espiral OKAN
CONTEMPORARY ROOTS ALBUM OF THE YEAR Bravado Rose Cousins
ALBUM FRANCOPHONE DE L’ANNÉE Quand la nuit tombe Louis-Jean Cormier
CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: LARGE ENSEMBLE Ginastera – Bernstein – Moussa: Œuvres pour violon et orchestre Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
VOCAL JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR With You Sammy Jackson
INDIGENOUS ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR North Star Calling Leela Gilday
JACK RICHARDSON PRODUCER OF THE YEAR WondaGurl
CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN/GOSPEL ALBUM OF THE YEAR THE WAY Shawna Cain
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), Belly (Ahmad Balshe), & Jason “DaHeala” (“After Hours,” “Blinding Lights”, “Save Your Tears”)
METAL/HARD MUSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR Abyss Unleash The Archers
JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR: GROUP The reMission Andy Milne and Unison
BLUES ALBUM OF THE YEAR Church House Blues Crystal Shawanda
CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: SOLO OR CHAMBER MOSAÏQUE Ensemble Made In Canada
RECORDING ENGINEER OF THE YEAR Serban Ghenea
INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR Movements III Blitz//Berlin
CLASSICAL COMPOSITION OF THE YEAR Violin Concerto “Adrano” Samy Moussa
ELECTRONIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR Suddenly Caribou
SINGLE OF THE YEAR “Blinding Lights” The Weeknd
TRADITIONAL ROOTS ALBUM OF THE YEAR Bet On Love Pharis & Jason Romero
INTERNATIONAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR Fine Line Harry Styles
ADULT ALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR Sad Hunk BAHAMAS
COMEDY ALBUM OF THE YEAR Horse Power Jacob Samuel
COUNTRY ALBUM OF THE YEAR The Lemonade Stand Tenille Townes
DANCE RECORDING OF THE YEAR BUBBA KAYTRANADA
RAP RECORDING OF THE YEAR ELEMENTS Vol. 1 TOBi
The revelation of the final 10 awards and an emotional finale closed out the 50th JUNO Awards broadcast on CBC Sunday night.
The Weeknd continued his domination over this year’s awards with his statues for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. He was in good company while fellow international superstars, Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber took home the JUNO Fan Choice Award and Pop Album of the Year, while Breakthrough Artist of the Year went to JP Sax.
Starting with an opening performance by Justin Bieber, specially filmed performances provided the 50th JUNO Awards with some major star power and celebration for the special anniversary of the ceremony. A special performance paying tribute to the 30th anniversary of the introduction of rap as a category was led by Kardinal Offishall and featured hip-hop pioneers Michee Mee and Maestro Fresh Wes, singer Jully Black, rapper NAV, and Polaris Music Prize winner, Haviah Mighty; while Jessie Reyez brought a soulful performance of “Do You Love Her” and “Before Love Came To Kill Us.” Duets also dotted the JUNO performances, with three-time 2021 nominee Ali Gatie performing with first-time nominee Tate McRae; while JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter, William Prince, performed “The Spark” with fellow JUNO Award winner, Serena Ryder.
The most memorable presentations of the evening are what folks are still talking about days later. The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year went to Dr. Mary Piercey-Lewis of Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit; who uses traditional Inuit culture as a basis to build a music curriculum in Nunavut. Anne Murray was present to induct the sensational and beloved, Jann Arden, into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Finally, closing out the night, was the presentation of the 2021 Humanitarian Award to the Tragically Hip. On hand to present the award honouring the band’s 35 years of philanthropic work was Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, as well as Patrick Downie, on behalf of his brother, the late Gord Downie; but the reunited Hip gave the country a mighty gift with a performance of “It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken” featuring Feist on lead vocals.
Although the 2021 JUNO Awards are over, organizers announced that Toronto will again play host to JUNO Awards in 2022 as a symbolic gesture to the return to live music in Canada’s great music city.
The complete list winners announced during the 50th JUNO Awards broadcast were:
TRADITIONAL R&B/SOUL RECORDING OF THE YEAR Solid Savannah Ré
ARTIST OF THE YEAR The Weeknd
MUSICOUNTS TEACHER OF THE YEAR Mary Piercey-Lewis, Inuksuk High School, Iqaluit, Nunavut
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST OF THE YEAR JP Sax
POP ALBUM OF THE YEARChanges Justin Bieber
ALBUM OF THE YEAR After Hours The Weeknd
JUNO FAN CHOICE Shawn Mendes
Born and raised with thoughts and aspirations of becoming a famous bassist in Sarnia, ON; Emily Plunkett now lives in Gatineau, QC, and considers National Capital Region home sweet home. A product of the Beatles, MuchMusic and the Southwestern Ontario summer festival circuit (circa 2000), her interest and love in concert photography came almost completely by accident when her journalism program at Algonquin College required courses in photojournalism (and she quickly realized that photos taken at concerts using a DSLR are enormously better than ones she was taking on a point-and-shoot she bought for a trip to England). She is extremely proud of the fact she has seen Sloan in some form or another 25 times.