After already earning five SOCAN Awards and 10 Billboard Music Awards in 2021, The Weeknd continued his winning streak with five honours at the 50th annual JUNO Awards, where he took home the trophies for Songwriter of the Year (alongside co-writers Ahmad “Belly” Balshe and Jason “Daheala” Quenneville), presented by SOCAN Interim CEO Jennifer Brown, as well as Single (for “Blinding Lights”), Contemporary R&B Recording, Album (both for his After Hours album), and Artist Of the Year.
Concert music composer Samy Moussa won Classical Composition of the Year, for his Violin Concerto Adrano. Louis-Jean Cormier earned the award for Francophone Album of the Year (for Quand la nuit tombe), while his fellow Montrealer KAYTRANADA won in the Dance Recording of the Year (for his Bubba album, after already taking home three 2021 Grammy Awards). L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Kent Nagano, featuring Andrew Wan, earned the honour for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble (for Works for Violin and Orchestra).
WondaGurl won as Producer of the Year, the first Black female to ever earn that honour, and one of only six female producers to do so in the history of the JUNOs. Leela Gilday earned the Indigenous Artist Or Group Of The Year Award, while Tenille Townes won Country Album of the Year (for The Lemonade Stand). Savannah Ré earned the Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year, for ”Solid,” while JP Saxe was recognized as the Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and Shawn Mendes won the Fan Choice Award.
The Opening Night Awards, on June 4, featured six performances, including a striking and powerful poem and two-song medley from Rap Recording of the Year winner TOBi; a captivating three-song medley from Reggae Recording of the Year nominees Ammoye, Kirk Diamond, and this year’s winner, TÖME; a special collaboration of catchy songs from Country Album of the Year nominees Lindsay Ell and MacKenzie Porter; some guitar-and-drums prog-rock from Breakthrough Group of the Year winners, the duo Crown Lands; and a hard-rockin’ song from 2020/2021 Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class short listers MONOWHALES.
The Broadcast Awards, on June 6, featured a super-high-energy performance honouring 30 years of rap music at the JUNOs, with an intro from Michie Mee, a rapid-fire narrative history from Kardinal Offishall, and songs from Maestro Fresh Wes, Kardinal himself with Jully Black, NAV, and a poetic outro from Haviah Mighty; William Prince and Serena Ryder singing a moving version of his song “The Spark”; a stylized, music-video-like performance of a two-song medley from Jessie Reyez; Humanitarian Award recipients The Tragically Hip playing with Leslie Feist in the Toronto’s Massey Hall, still under renovation; and performances from Justin Bieber, and Tate McRae with Ali Gatie. Jann Arden was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and talked about how music became everything to her, saying, “Music is magic, music is unbelievably special, and important to human life.”
The JUNO Songwriters’ Circle, known as “the jewel of JUNO week,” was presented by SOCAN on June 5, in between the awards nights, and featured host Jim Cuddy sharing songs and stories with Deborah Cox, Dan Hill, Carole Pope, and Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis from July Talk.
Cuddy talked about writing “Good News” when he noticed people being kinder to each other at the outset of the pandemic, and praised CanCon regulations for allowing “Try” to become a hit song for Blue Rodeo. Deborah Cox discussed her love/hate relationship with songwriting, getting signed directly in the U.S. by legendary music-industry titan Clive Davis, and applied her spine-tingling voice to her song, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Dan Hill recalled his 19-year-old self, unrecorded, turning down the legendary Harry Belafonte for a cover of his song, “You Make Me Want to Be a Father,” because he knew it was strong enough that he had to save it for his own debut. Fay and Dreimanis talked about the need to challenge your love every day, and performed a hushed, shining rendition of “Good Enough.” Carole Pope discussed the rock musical at which she’s working away, Attitude, and played a song from it, “Viral,” that cleverly plays the meaning of the word today against its significance during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.
For a full list of 2021 JUNO winners and nominees, click here. To hear all the winners, click here.