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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Cancer Care Unit at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, April 14, will benefit from a $100,000 donation from Prince Rupert Port Authority towards renovations. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $100,000 to hospital renovations

Cancer Care Unit at PRRH to undergo upgradesat PRRH to undergo upgrades

Teresa Van sorts bottles at the April 10 Rainmakers Interact Club bottle drive to earn funds for six Seabin garbage collection units for harbours and waterfronts in the local region. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Bottle drive successful with more collected than can be sorted in one day

Rainmakers Interact Club supports local community with funds toward ocean garbage collection units

Flights are to resume to Prince Rupert and Sandspit airports under an Air Canada and federal government $5.9 billion agreement that was reached on April 12. A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
$5.879 billion agreement between Air Canada and Fed’s will assist YPR in re-opening

Prince Rupert Regional Airport to reopen flights by June 1st, if not earlier

BC Housing townhouses on Kootenay Ave. were demolished during March to make way for new affordable residential units by Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Despite a recent reduction in units project will still be able to house many

Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society says 60 units is still the plan

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

HousingHub financing to encourage more developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read