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

West Kelowna firefighters practice swiftwater rescue techniques in the Shuswap River in Cherryville April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
West Kelowna firefighters make a splash in North Okanagan

Swift water rescue training brings team to Cherryville’s Shuswap River

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019. (Facebook photo)
Meth, excessive speed found as factors in Osoyoos boat crash deaths

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019

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. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

The automated external defibrillator, like the one pictured here, was stolen from the Skaha Lake Boathouse for the second time in a year. (File)
Life-saving device stolen from Penticton paddler community for second time

It’s hoped that a new boathouse will be able to better protect the device

Penticton Secondary School grade 12 student and organizer of Wednesday’s (April 21) Earth Day clean-up Rachel Jung cleans up Okanagan Beach with grade 9 students Easton Souch, Ethan Gordon, Sylas Denninger and Aydan Young. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton High School students spend the day cleaning up town

‘The Okanagan is such a beautiful place… it’s really sad to see litter everywhere,’ said organizer

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Virtual meetings are taking a toll on local governance, according to multiple mayors in the North Okanagan. (Headway photo)
Virtual meetings leave North Okanagan politicians out of touch

More than a year of Zoom has led to a disconnect between officials, according to local mayors

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
‘I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants the Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Most Read