Alessia Cara performs “Querer Mejor” at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year gala honoring Juanes at the MGM Conference Center on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Las Vegas. Alessia Cara emerged the top winner at this year’s Juno Awards, picking up three trophies in the streaming ceremony. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Invision, Chris Pizzello

Alessia Cara performs “Querer Mejor” at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year gala honoring Juanes at the MGM Conference Center on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Las Vegas. Alessia Cara emerged the top winner at this year’s Juno Awards, picking up three trophies in the streaming ceremony. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Invision, Chris Pizzello

Alessia Cara wins a leading three Juno Awards at streaming ceremony

Running a bit over 90 minutes, the Junos were handed out at historic speed, with 42 categories announced

Alessia Cara emerged the top winner at this year’s Juno Awards, scooping up three trophies in a pre-recorded ceremony that paired celebration with an acknowledgment that more needs to be done to represent the diverse voices of Canadian artists.

While the Junos usually mark the biggest night for the country’s music industry, the Monday event, which streamed online, took on a noticeably different tone in isolation. Missing were those euphoric acceptance speeches inside a massive venue filled with adoring fans, replaced with a handful of intimate performances and some serious reflection on the future.

Running a bit over 90 minutes, the Junos were handed out at historic speed, with 42 categories announced by presenters that included “Stranger Things” actor Finn Wolfhard and singer Jessie Reyez, who also pocketed her third career Juno during the event.

But it was the 23-year-old Cara who shone brightest as her deeply personal 2018 “The Pains of Growing” picked up both album and pop album of the year, while she also won songwriter of the year for her work on several of its tracks.

It was an uplifting finish for the Brampton, Ont.-raised pop singer after her dreams of hosting the awards show were dashed in the wake of COVID-19. She was originally lined up to be MC for the televised event in Saskatoon last March before organizers pulled the plug in response to the pandemic.

Cara was quick to jump onto Twitter after she came out on top, posting a characteristically humble “um whaaaaaaat” before retweeting congratulatory messages from a couple of her followers.

Aside from the big wins, Monday’s ceremony took on a sense of social urgency as greater awareness surrounding representation of Black, Indigenous and other artists of colour became a topic some of the presenters addressed.

CBC Radio host Odario Williams, who’s also a member of hip-hop collective Grand Analog, opened the show with a candid acknowledgment of the many shortfalls of Juno Awards past.

He noted that it took 15 years after the first ceremony in 1970 before soul and reggae artists were included in the list of categories, while it wasn’t until 1991 when the first rap recording award was given to Maestro Fresh Wes.

“I’ve got to give a shout out to the Black and Indigenous Canadian artists of the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s that are true pioneers in the growth of our musical landscape,” he said, pointing to Liberty Silver, who was the first Black woman to win a Juno in 1985.

ALSO READ: Caught in U.S. COVID-19 surge, Canadian ex-pats hunker down, spare a thought for home

While Juno organizers have made efforts to improve diversity among its nominees in recent years, president Allan Reid recognized that much work still needs to be done.

“We are committed to the long-term inclusion and amplification of Black voices and a more equitable industry for all,” he said at the outset of the show.

“We are working on an action plan with specific commitments that we will reveal this July. We must do better for our BIPOC members of the music community, and we welcome you to hold us accountable.”

A number of the night’s music performances also put the subject of racism in Canada at the forefront.

Halifax alt-pop duo Neon Dreams, who were selected as breakthrough group this year, gave a sombre performance of “We Were Kings.” The coming-of-age reflection was co-written by lead singer Frank Kadillac about his own experiences rising above stereotypes, racism and high school bullying.

Indigenous singer Iskwe went outdoors to play ”Little Star,” a song paying tribute to Colten Boushie, Tina Fontaine and the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, filmed within the Mississaugas Of Scugog Island First Nation territory.

Other highlights included two-time winner Shawn Mendes, who was selected as artist of the year. “Senorita,” his duet with girlfriend Camila Cabello, won single of the year, making him the first artist to pick up that award for three consecutive years.

Breakthrough artist went to Oshawa, Ont.-born pop singer Lennon Stella, who’s already established herself as an actress on the primetime musical-drama series “Nashville.”

Avril Lavigne pocketed the fan choice award, which is voted on by viewers, for the second year in a row, and the third time in her career.

Among this year’s most surprising winners is Governor General Julie Payette, who’s a member of the Ottawa Bach Choir that won best classical album, vocal or choral.

Bryan Adams’ “Shine a Light” won adult contemporary album, giving the musician his 17th Juno win and putting him behind only Celine Dion and Anne Murray as the artist with the most Junos.

David Friend, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

AwardsCanadaCoronavirus

Just Posted

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

Steve McAdam (left) is studying substrate conditions in the Nechako River and how they impact sturgeon eggs. The work will help design habitat restoration measures, said McAdam. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Sturgeon egg studies to help inform future habitat restoration

“It’s an interesting, challenging issue,” says Steve McAdam

Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof addiction treatment centre tries again with ministry support

Agriculture minister insists she is not interfering in land commission

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read