Last night marked an auspicious occasion in Canadian music: the 2014 JUNO Awards.
Sometimes referred to as the Canadian Grammys, the JUNOs have many more claims to fame than that. Sponsored by some of the biggest organizations in the Canadian music industry (including FACTOR, the Radio Starmaker Fund and SOCAN), as well as many other Canadian brand powerhouses (TD Bank, Labatt, and Sirius XM), the JUNOs are a celebration of all Canadian music, and, indeed, of Canada itself. Every genre is recognized, from pop, classical, rock, folk, blues and everything around and in between and every province and its capital are given a chance to host the annual event. Set in Winnipeg this year, a who’s who of Canadian music made its way to the city that has given us musical greats The Weakerthans, indie darlings Imaginary Cities and Canadian rock icons The Guess Who.
There were several notable absences from the JUNOs stage this year. Arcade Fire accepted their Album of the Year award from South America, controversial performer Robin Thicke bowed out due to vocal strain and the always divisive Justin Bieber was not present to accept his 5th Fan Choice award, which was probably best considering the vicious boos the mere mention of his name received. But in true Canadian style, the Canadian women’s curling team, who presented the award, accepted it graciously on the beleaguered pop star’s behalf, and Serena Ryder took time out from her sweetly charming acceptance speech for Songwriter of the Year to defend Bieber, endearing herself even further to us all.
The Canadian music stars that did attend the JUNOs turned out incredible performances, including Ryder’s opening number accompanied by co-host Classified and a very enthusiastic children’s choir. Winners of Pop Album of the Year Tegan and Sara delivered a fantastic performance of “Closer,” joined by Choir! Choir! Choir! Another highlight was the fantastic collaboration between The Sheepdogs, Matt Mays and Travis Good of the Sadies to honor Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction. Aside from Ryder and Tegan and Sara, notable winners included Matt Mays, head newly shorn and sporting an edgy look to take home Rock Album of the Year for Coyote. R&B heartthrob JDRN took the prize for R&B / Soul Recording of the Year for “Can’t Choose” ft. Kardinal Offishall, and Roots & Traditional Album of the Year went to The Strumbellas for We Still Move on Dancefloors.
Between the amazing music, the inspiring speeches from all the winners and the infectious happiness and glee that radiated from every individual that took the stage, the JUNOs were a heartwarming and positive success for Canadian music. If every year improves on this one, hopefully Canadians will continue to sit up and pay attention to their homegrown music, and one day we’ll be calling the Grammys the American Junos.
For a full list of the winners please see below. For photos and more information head over to www.junoawards.ca.