The 2021 Juno Awards took place Friday (4) and Sunday (6) in a virtual ceremony – the first since the show was canceled earlier last year.
The evening began with a moment of silence to recognize the 215 children whose remains were discovered at the former Kamloops Indigenous Residential School in late May, while Crown Lands began its performance with a tribute to the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
On opening night, presenter Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe handed out awards
to JJ Wilde for Rock Album of the Year, Alanis Morissette for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year, and cemented The Weeknd as the pioneer of Junos. He took home the most hardware, winning Contemporary R&B Record of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and Single of the Year.
Meanwhile, Crown Lands won innovative group of the year, rapper TOBi took home rap record of the year and producer Kaytranada won dance record of the year – a category in which he won a Grammy less than three months ago.
In an interview after his victory, TOBi said that his career and belief in himself started with the support of his community.
“I went from a college degree into a space where I felt like I was in limbo as an artist – not knowing where to go, almost giving up over and over again,” he told CBC News.
The Brampton, Ont. the rapper said arts empowerment programs in the city, such as The Remix Project and RISE Edutainment, have helped in its growth and development. These programs, he added, allowed him to witness powerful examples of representation in the industry that inspired him to move forward.
“There are a lot of people who are anonymous champions,” he said. “Canada outweighs its weight for its art.”
Elsewhere, Canadian producer Wondagurl (Ebony Naomi Oshunrinde) became the first black woman to win Jack Richardson’s Producer of the Year Award.
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“It feels like a dream,” she told CBC News. “I’ve been making music since I was nine and I’ve taken it seriously since I was 12… It’s something I’ve always wanted – to be successful as a producer and definitely win that award.”
Toward the end of the show, Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) President Allan Reid announced that the 51st Juno Awards would take place in Toronto for a “face-to-face” concert.
The last time the event took place in the city was during the 40th Juno Awards in 2011, which was hosted by Toronto-born rapper Drake.
When the 50th annual Juno Awards celebrated its half-century milestone on Sunday, the spotlight also shone on another anniversary — 30 years since the inception of its rap category.
When Junos released the Rap Record of the Year in 1991, the statue went to Maestro Fresh-Wes’ hit single Let Your Backbone Slide.
“I mean, I was excited to have won. I was excited to be nominated. I was also excited about the fact that for black music, you know, that’s like a catalyst for us as artists to take it to the next level,” he told CBC News.
I was a little nervous saying my speech because I knew it was bigger than me. It wasn’t just about me. It’s about my brothers and sisters coming with me. ”
The genre has evolved over the past three decades on Canadian soil, but not without obstacles along the way.
In 1998, Vancouver hip hop group Rascalz refused to accept the rap award, accusing the Junos of racism.
“Urban music, reggae, R&B and rap: it’s all black music and it’s not represented on Junos,” entrepreneur Sol Guy said that year, reading a statement on behalf of the group. “We’ve decided that until it is, let’s take a stand,”
The following year, the group returned to the Junos stage to perform their hit, Northern Touch, live on television and named Rap Record of the Year award, changing the way Canada viewed and consumed rap music.
Over the past decade, heavyweight Canadian hip hop artists like Drake and R&B artists like The Weeknd have dominated the charts, making entry into the hip hop space a plausible goal for new talent.
Although hip hop dominates the charts today, 30 years ago – and possibly even more recently – artists would have had to seek support outside of Canada.
Artists such as Maestro, Michie Mee and the hip hop duo Dream Warriors, who were the first stars on the scene, did not sign contracts with national labels.
Support needed to come from home radios and other infrastructure.
Until recently, streaming didn’t exist for hip hop artists as it does today.
James Rathbone, DJ and host of the weekly music and culture podcast Catch Up, says the country has become a hip hop market and, over the past 10 years, has boomed.
“At the moment, we are still very much in that place,” said Rathbone. “There is great work being produced across the country.”
He added that the Canadian music industry is a “complicated” industry.
Rathbone said the US is the biggest producer and exporter of hip hop music. “In a sense, it’s sometimes difficult to find a balance between what’s locally, you know, supported and created and what’s…almost validated by your success in America.”
But he argued that traditional markers of success in the industry are becoming less relevant due to the “disruption of technology.
Complete list of Juno 2021 Winners
Juno Fan Choice Award: Shawn Mendes
Single of the Year: “Blinding Lights,” the Weeknd
International Album of the Year: Fine Line, Harry Styles
Album of the Year: After Hours, the Weeknd
Artist of the Year: The Weeknd
Group of the Year: Arkells
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: JP Saxe
Breakthrough Group of the Year: Crown Lands
Country Album of the Year: The Lemonade Stand, Tenille Townes
Adult Alternative Album of the Year: Sad Hunk, Bahamas
Alternative Album of the Year: Pray for It, July Talk
Pop Album of the Year: Changes, Justin Bieber
Rock Album of the Year: Ruthless, JJ Wilde
Vocal jazz Album of the Year: With You, Sammy Jackson
Jazz album of the year: Solo: Elegant Traveler, Jocelyn Gould
Jazz Album of the Year: Group: The reMission, Andy Milne and Unison
Instrumental Album of the Year: Movements III, Blitz//Berlin
Francophone de l’année Album: When the Nuit falls, Louis-Jean Cormier
Children’s album of the year: Heart Parade, Splash’N Boots
Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber: Mosaïque, Ensemble Made In Canada
Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble: Ginastera – Bernstein – Moussa: Œuvres pour violon et orchestra/Works for Violin and Orchestra, Orchestra symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Kent Nagano, featuring Andrew Wan
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
Classic Composition of the Year: Violin Concert “Adrano,” Samy Moussa
Rap Recording of the Year: Elements Vol. 1, Tobi
Dance Recording of the Year: Bubba, kaytranada
Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year: After Hours, The Weeknd
Reggae Recording of the Year: “I Pray,” Töme and Sean Kingston
Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year: North Star Calling, Leela Gilday
Contemporary Roots Album of the Year: Bravado, Rose Cousins
Traditional Roots Album of the Year: Bet on Love, Pharis & Jason Romero
Blues Album of the Year: Church House Blues, Crystal Shawanda
Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year: The Way, Shawna Cain
World Music Album of the Year: Spiral, Okan
Jack Richardson Producer of the Year: WondaGurl: “Aim for the Moon,” Pop Smoke featuring Quavo (co-producers 5ive Beatz, 808Melo, Dani, Dez Wright, Tyy Beats, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon); “Gang Gang,” Jackboys and Sheck Wes (co-producer Vou, Jackboys)
Recording Engineer of the Year: Serban Ghenea: “Blinding Lights” (The Weeknd, After Hours); “positions” (Ariana Grande, Positions)
Album Artwork of the Year: Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs, Klô Pelgag: Julien Hébert (art director), David Beauchemin (designer), Florence Obrecht (illustrator), Marc-Étienne Mongrain (photographer)
Music Video of the Year: No One’s in the Room by Emma Higgins (Jessie Reyez)
Electronic Album of the Year: Suddenly, Caribou
Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year: Abyss, Unleash the Archers
Adult Contemporary Album of the Year: Such Pretty Forks in the Road, Alanis Morissette
Comedy Album of the Year: Horse Power, Jacob Samuel
Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year: Solid, Savannah Defendant