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Everyone knows that the Junos are basically Canada’s version of the Grammy’s, but did you know how the Junos came to be? Back in 1964, RPM Magazine started to poll Canadians to see who their favorite music groups and artists were. These results would then get announced each December in the magazine. Sometime after this started, Stan Klees, who owned record labels such as Tamarac Records and Red Leaf Records in the 1960s, got together with the founder of RPM, Walt Grealis, and the two of them decided to plan a formal ceremony for the music industry.


This first ceremony was called the “Gold Leaf Awards” and took place in 1970, in Toronto Ontario. After its success, RPM Magazine polled its readers again, this time to come up with an official name for the ceremony. The winning name was “Juneau”, after the first president of the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), Pierre Juneau. The name was shortened to Juno, and in 1975 it was aired on Canadian television for the first time.   


After Hours by The Weekend / The Weekend stands with his head tilted back, a smile on his face, with a cut on his nose and blood running down his face, his teeth bloody, his lip bruised After previously being postponed twice this year, the 2021 Juno Awards aired on Sunday, June 6th, marking the 50th anniversary of the awards show. For the second year in a row the awards ceremony was held virtually, featuring pre-recorded performances from Canadian superstars Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Celine Dion and more. While Toronto Native Abel Tesfaye (A.K.A. The Weeknd) took home the most wins for his album After Hours – including Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year – he did not make an appearance. Shawn Mendes - also a no-show - won the Juno Fan Choice for Wonder. Justin Bieber won best Pop Album for his album Changes and while he didn’t show up to accept the award, he did pre-record a performance of his song “Somebody”.


Dangerous Levels of Introspection by jp saxe / jp saxe sits on a brown leather sofa staring neutrally into the middle distanceAnother Toronto native - and boyfriend to pop star Julia Michaels - JP Saxe, took home the award for Breakthrough Artist. Saxe rose to fame after his collaboration with girlfriend Michaels, for the Grammy nominated song titled “If The World Was Ending”.  The song was produced by Finneas, brother of pop sensation Billie Eilish. The original video for the song currently has over 140 million views on YouTube. Another video was made for the song and released on April 30th 2020, with proceeds going to the Doctors Without Borders charity. This version of "If The World Was Ending" features 25 different artists recording themselves singing clips of the song, including Keith Urban, Noah Cyrus, Finneas, Lindsey Stirling, Alessia Cara, Niall Horan, and so many other talented artists. It truly is a beautiful song, and will be part of JP Saxe’s upcoming album Dangerous Levels of Introspection which will release on June 25.


Pray for it by July Talk / a black and white photo of a parking garage, with a shirtless male swan diving off the edgeBest Alternative Album went to yet another Toronto music act, July Talk, for their album Pray For It. Band members Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis appeared through webcam to accept this award. While winners aren’t given much time for their acceptance speeches, they took the time to acknowledge the recent tragic discovery at a Kamloops Residential school, telling Canadians we need to “show up and be honest with each other” finishing with Leah telling saying, “Thank you to the internet, even though you’re mean sometimes.” This is the third time the band has one for Best Alternative Album.


reckless by jj wilde / an overhead shot of a dining room table that is in chaos. Photographs, used dishes, drugs, roses, books, booze and dying house pants contribute to the mess.Kitchener native JJ Wilde – real name Jillian Dowding - took home the award for Rock Album of the Year, for her album Ruthless. Wilde is the first woman in 25 years to win this award. The previous winner was Alanis Morrisette, for her album Jagged Little Pill. (Morrisette also won this year, this time winning Best Adult Contemporary Album for the album Such Pretty Forks in the Road). Before her musical success, Wilde worked at local Waterloo music venue Maxwell’s, starting off in coat check and then bartending, where she would get inspired watching the other acts perform. Wilde also performed at her place of work with her former band “The Royal Streets” in 2015, to an almost sold-out crowd.


saskadelphia by the tragically hip / on a steel grey field is a photograph of a man walking a dog on a leash through a trailer park. Beneath the photo, in scrabble tiles, the word Saskadelphia is spelled outFor the first time since the death of frontman Gord Downie in 2017, The Tragically Hip performed together, featuring Leslie “Feist” on lead vocal. The moving performance took place inside Massey Hall and was introduced by Gordon Lightfoot. The band was presented the Humanitarian Award by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, surviving members of the classic Canadian rock band Rush. Throughout their career, the members of The Tragically Hip have raised millions of dollars for many different Canadian charities, with Downie also helping to bring to attention the history and hardships faced by Canadian Indigenous people. Gord Downie was an incredible person and extremely talented musician who will always be missed and remembered by his fellow Canadians. The Hip also have a new album out, Saskadelphia, featuring never before heard songs records back in 1991 when the band was working on the classic album Road Apples.


For the complete list of winners, you can take a look at Slist 45122.  


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Happy listening!

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