June 08

JUNOS 2021 Sunday, June 6 The lead up to the 50th Anniversary of Canada’s biggest music award event!

By Sally Warburton 

JUNOS 2021  Sunday, June 6  The lead up to the 50th Anniversary of  Canada’s biggest music award event was phenomenal. Before the 8pm start there were two hours of JUNO programs on the history of music venues across Canada with their memorable performances over the five decades…from Nirvana performing in Edmonton’s Starlight Room in 1991 where Bif Naked’s been playing since 1989 to William Prince and to the Metropolis in Montreal where Charlotte Cardin, Céline Dion, Feist, Leonard Cohen all performed.   

The Montreal Jazz Festival with its musicians from all over the world. Joel Plaskett at the Marquee Ballroom in Halifax with the Seahorse Tavern in the lower level.  Bif Naked’s special venue The Rickshaw in Vancouver – the throwback venue offering perfect sightlines wherever you sit. 

The JUNOS 50 Year History – Alessia Cara shared highlights of the JUNOS memories over the decades included Jully Black, Deborah Cox, Rascalz, Maestro Fresh Wes (1991 clip).  A national Hip Hop scene started being celebrated in the JUNOS 30 years ago. Alannis Morissette reflecting on her 2004 hosting of the JUNOS in Edmonton. KD Lang accepting her Most Promising Female Vocalist wearing a wedding dress (year = 1985  )   Sarah McLaughlin giving Corey Hart the Canadian Music Hall of Fame Award in 2019   Buffy Sainte Marie recalled hosting JUNOS in 2017 reading the ‘Land Statement” for the first time. Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea in 2002 was first time JUNOS held in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Anne Murray told about giving Canadian Songwriter Hall of Fame award to Jann Arden. Maestro Fresh Wes with his song “Let Your Backbone Slide”

It was a Canadian music fan’s trip down memory lane.

The famous Toronto CNE Bandshell had Louis Armstrong, Joni Mitchell and Kardinal Offishall 2010 when he realized his career was going somewhere. Jully Black and Liberty Silver, Crystal Shawanda, CT the Second were all featured. 

Massey Hall – Neil Young, RUSH, Gordon LIghtfoot, BNL, Buffy Sainte Marie, Bob Dylan, Alessia Cara – the honour she feels of having performed there. The Opera House, Horseshoe, Masonic Temple, Sneaky Dees and the Matador  – all venues taking us down memory lane.

The 50th JUNO Awards virtual ceremony was excellent from start to finish. Musicians in different locations. Some prerecorded and some live performances. Justin Beiber and his band opened the show with a bang with a song from his JUNO award winning Pop Album of the Year for ‘Justice’. The talent throughout the award show never stopped. The Weeknd stole the show with 5 JUNOS. Shania Twain presented him winning Artist of the Year for his album ‘After Hours’. Excellent Indigneous musicians such as Buffy Sainte Marie, William Prince and Robbie Robertson were featured.   J.P. Saxe won Breakthrough Artist and performed his song “If this World was Ending” with Julia Michaels. Beautiful.

A segment of concert clips on Bare Naked Ladies and their magnificent contribution to Canadian Music.

TIK TOK for breakout artists, especially during the Covid Pandemic, has been a lifesaver.  The highlight of the evening was Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of RUSH presenting the members of The Tragically Hip with the JUNO Humanitarian Award. Clips of The Tragically Hip opening for RUSH at Maple Leaf Gardens… (what a dream concert!) and the Hip at the Horseshoe. The honour, respect and love Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip have shown Indigenous communities in Canada was shared. An especially emotional time given the recent finding of 215 Indigenous children’s bodies at the residential school grounds in B.C.  Dallas Green of City & Colour spoke about Downie’s Indigenous name ‘Wicapi Omani’ meant “He who walks among the Stars” 

Gordon Lightfoot introduced The remaining members of The Tragically Hip along with Leslie Feist who performed ‘It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’ to close the show. And what a way to end. It was a beautiful tribute to Gord Downie.

If you didn’t know it already, you’d know it after the show …that Canada is filled with musical talent…

The whole evening had a vibe that live music will come back with a vengeance … and sooner than we think! So be it!  JUNOS 50th Anniversary was a brilliant virtual success.