Alessia Cara Sweeps Canada’s Juno Awards; Shawn Mendes Wins Artist of the YearVariety — Karen Bliss
The Toronto native was supposed to host the nationally televised ceremony back in mid-March in Saskatoon, SK, before it was cancelled last-minute due to rapidly mounting concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. She also performed a new song, “Rooting For You,” on the virtual event that celebrated the best in Canadian music. The song will be available on her “Summer: Live Off the Floor” EP, out July 17.
“It would have been so cool to be in Saskatoon this year, but I’m happy we’re still able to acknowledge our peers for the amazing art they’ve made over the last year,” said Cara, in presenting international album of the year for Billie Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
The Junos streamed on various online CBC channels and social pages and winners weren’t notified in advance.
Unlike last night’s BET Awards, the 90-minute show was little more than a reading aloud of each category by assorted presenters — from musicians to media to Toronto Raptors’ 2019 champion Chris Boucher and “Stranger Things” actor Finn Wolfhard. The list was only broken up with an in memoriam segment as well as a tribute to the Junos’ teacher of the year segments, plus four pre-recorded live performances — Cara, iskwē, Neon Dreams and The Dead South, all of whom ended up winning a trophy.
Usually the Junos are handed out over two nights, the majority at a private industry-only gala dinner, followed the next evening by the televised broadcast filled mostly with live performances. But the idea of this make-up virtual show was to acknowledge the 171 nominees in 42 categories who missed out on the opportunity in March to even find out if they had won. The lifetime awards that were supposed to happen in Saskatoon — Jann Arden’s Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction and SRO management’s Pegi Cecconi’s Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award — are delayed until such a time when they can be honored properly.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Junos, to be held in Toronto — though the celebration might be delayed from its scheduled March 27 and 28 2021 dates (the city is projected to be in stage 2 of reopening).
Allan Reid, president and CEO of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS), is all too familiar with the dilemma, calling the cancellation in March “a very difficult decision, but little did we know then how much our world would change over the next few months. Many people have lost their livelihoods and the music industry has been one of the hardest hit.”
He also acknowledged something that likely would not have made the broadcast three-and-a-half months ago, “For the first time in history, we are seeing people of all nations take a unified stand for Black lives,” he said. “As president of CARAS, it is my responsibility to ensure that we take an active role in dismantling systemic racism. We are committed to the long-term inclusion and amplification of Black voices and a more equitable industry for all.” He added that CARAS will reveal “an action plan with specific commitments” in July.
See which artists won 2020 Juno Awards below and read the full list on the Junos’ site.