Unless you neglected to remove your earbuds last week, you’d have heard the Juno Awards were coming to town, bringing some of our country’s best artists together to celebrate Canadian music.
On Saturday, music industry players and special guests gathered at the Shaw Centre for a private awards dinner ceremony, presented by SOCAN and held on the eve of the 46th annual Juno Awards at the Canadian Tire Centre. This year, there were 183 nominees, including 74 first timers representing 16 genres.
Many of the stars, including The Strumbellas, Buffy Sainte-Marie and July Talk, did the red carpet thing, striking playful poses, flashing big smiles or playing it cool for the cameras before ascending to the third floor for an evening of big awards and live performances.
Also on the carpet were Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and Mark Cohon, chairman of the board of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).
Rob Baker, lead guitarist for The Tragically Hip, said he looks forward to the Juno Awards because the event allows him to connect with other musicians, who, like himself, are often busy touring.
“It’s a great celebration of the music industry in Canada,” he told OBJ.social. “The way I look at it, it’s a chance to get together with all these people who are out there doing what I’m doing. We don’t often get a chance to be in one room to schmooze and have fun and have a drink together.”
There was no shortage of trendy looks and designer gowns (soul singer Tanika Charles donned Lucian Matis, one of Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s go-to Canadian designers).
Rocking the kilt was Allan Reid, president and CEO of CARAS and the Juno Awards. His chosen attire, worn as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary year, honoured the 59 years since his parents came from Scotland to Canada in search of a better life.
“Like many new Canadians back then and now, they were welcomed with open arms and encouraged to live out their dreams,” Reid said later on stage. “Their story is probably very similar to many of your family stories: We all came from somewhere.”
“Ottawa has rolled out the red carpet for us.”
Reid said he was very happy with how the Juno Awards were being received. “Ottawa has rolled out the red carpet for us,” he told OBJ.social. “We have a packed house tonight. Canadian music couldn’t be hotter than right now. Our country couldn’t be more exciting than right now, globally.”
For city councillor Mathieu Fleury, the 2017 Juno Awards seemed to have an authentic feel in Ottawa, compared to when they last blew through town in 2012. A variety of concerts and high-profile events, along with a welcome reception at the National Gallery, were hosted in the days leading up to Sunday’s splashy main event.
Fleury, co-chair of the city’s task force on Canada’s 150th anniversary, said he’s received rave reviews from visiting musicians on how cool Ottawa has become. He already knew that, of course. “But, it’s fun to be reminded.”