The cameras and evening gowns come out for the glitzy Sunday, March 17, 2019, broadcast of the JUNO Awards on TV. In reality, as with most similar events, most of the awards were already given out the evening before, on Saturday, March 16 at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards Presented by SOCAN. The event was live streamed by the CBC from the London Convention Centre.
Thirty-six JUNO Awards were handed out Saturday night, with strict instructions to the winners by co-host Ben Kowalewicz to advance to the stage alone — no “label weasels” or significant others allowed — and take no more than 60 seconds with their acceptance speeches.
Kowalewicz began with, “Welcome to music’s longest night,” and reminded the audience that he was the singer with seven-time JUNO Award-winning band Billy Talent. Mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah, host of CBC Music’s Tempo, and co-host of the evening, showed off her operatic chops for the audience for laughs. The gala was punctuated by live performances and a generally more relaxed vibe than the televised spectacle.
Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral was awarded to Vienna: Fin de siècle by soprano Barbara Hannigan with longtime collaborator Reinbert De Leeuw. The release comes as a follow up to her GRAMMY Award-winning debut Alpha, Crazy Girl Crazy. Hannigan and Dutch pianist De Leeuw mine the roots of modern music in composers like Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, and others — those first expressions of musical revolution as tonality begins to lose its hold on Western music.
The talent pool for the Classical Composition of the Year award was female-friendly, including nominations for Bekah Simms, Cassandra Miller, Nicole Lizée, and one lone male nominee in Vincent Ho. The award went to Ana Sokolović for the album Golden Slumbers Kiss your Eyes. Sokolović praised the National Arts Centre Orchestra, who perform on the recording, for their role in commissioning and touring new and original Canadian works. She dedicated her award in part to late Canadian pianist and conductor Mario Bernardi for his contributions to Canadian culture, and to the role of immigrants in the nation’s cultural landscape.
Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble was a major win for Toronto Symphony Orchestra and its CD Vaughan Williams on the Chandos label. The TSO is conducted by Peter Oundjian on the recording, and features a number of soloists, including pianist Louis Lortie, singers Carla Huhtanen, Emily D’Angelo, Lawrence Wiliford, and Tyler Duncan, along with the Elmer Iseler Singers, oboe player Sarah Jeffrey, and violist Teng Li. The release includes Williams’ Piano Concerto in C, Serenade to Music, Concerto in A minor for Oboe, and Flos Campi, and was also nominated for a GRAMMY® Award.
Toronto’s Gryphon Trio racked up a win for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber for their CD The End of Flowers: Works by Clarke & Ravel. In their acceptance speech, cellist Roman Borys added an extra plug for the work of British composer Rebecca Clarke, highlighted on the album, as a neglected figure in the world of classical music. The trio who began as fellow faculty at the University of Toronto won against heavyweight competition from Angela Hewitt, pianist Hsin-I Huang, violin/piano duo Andrew Wan and Charles Richard-Hamelin, and violinist Blake Pouliot.
In the live streamed event, punctuated by live performances, audiences get to see a little less polished side of favourite Canadian celebs. Stage directions were given with no edits. We hear every awkward joke that falls flat, every politician stumbling through the French part of their speech. Singer Michael Bublé seemed to nearly tear up as he described producer David Foster’s work with sick children and their families through his foundation. Foster was the 2018 Humanitarian Award Winner.
Crowd favourite Michael Bublé netted Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for the release Love. Shawn Mendes surprised no one with multiple wins for Pop Album of the Year for his eponymous release on Universal, as well as Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year.
Some of the winners showed personality even within the 60-second restriction. First Nations artists LOVECOLLIDE charmed the audience as they won Contemporary Christian Album of the Year for their dance-oriented Tired of Basic. Metalheads Voivod won the award for Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year for The Wake — their first JUNO in 36 years, as they noted with a laugh.
World Music Album of the Year went to the CD Rapadou Kreyol by Montreal-based Wesli, who dedicated the award to his native country of Haiti in a passionate speech.
The Indigenous Music Album of the Year went to 2018 Polaris Prize winner Jeremy Dutcher for his release Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. In his acceptance speech, Dutcher added a bid for consideration of all Indigenous artists in broader categories, and not simply within a niche — and a dig at Prime Minister Trudeau for certain pipeline activities and water advisories on reserves.
Toronto and its musicians were well represented in the jazz categories. Jazz Album of the Year: Group went to Andy Milne & Dapp Theory for the album The Seasons of Being. Milne, now a fixture in the NYC jazz scene, was born in Hamilton, raised in Toronto, and studied music at York University with Oscar Peterson. Toronto based jazz pianist and composer Robi Botos seemed shocked by his win for Jazz Album of the Year: Solo for his release Old Soul.
Rock Album of the Year — the last award granted for the night — went to the pride of Hamilton, Ontario, the Arkells for the CD Rally Cry, who ceded their time at the mic to Jeremy Dutcher to end the night with another poetic speech about reconciliation.
Other musical awards handed out during the evening:
- The first award granted, for Dance Recording of the Year, went to Loud Luxury for the album Body.
- Traditional Roots Album of the Year went to Sweet Old Religion by Pharis and Jason Romero.
- Ali Eisner won Video of the Year for No Depression.
- Vocal Jazz Album of the Year went to Laila Biali for her self-titled release.
- The Washboard Union were awarded the JUNO for Breakthrough Group of the Year.
- Gordon Grdina won Instrumental Album of the Year for China Cloud.
- Children’s Album of the Year went to You, Me and the Sea by Splash’N Boots.
- Alternative Album of the Year went to Baby Teeth by Oshawa’s Dizzy.
- Rap Recording of the Year was won by Tory Lanez for LoVE me Now.
- The Jack Richardson Producer of the Year award went to Eric Ratz for the songs “People’s Champ”, “Relentless” on the Arkells’ album Rally Cry.
- Blues Album of the Year went to Colin James for Miles To Go.
- Electronic Album of the Year went to Milk & Bone for the album Deception Bay.
- Recording Engineer of the Year went to Shawn Everett for the tracks “Slow Burn” and “Space Cowboy” and the album Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves.
- Contemporary Roots Album of the Year was awarded to Donovan Woods for Both Ways.
- International Album of the Year went to Post Malone for beerbongs & bentleys.
- Loud Joy won Francophone Album of the Year for Une année record.
- Adult Alternative Album of the Year was won by Bahamas for the Earthtones.
- Reggae Recording of the Year went to Dubmatix for Sly & Robbie meet Dubmatix — Overdubbed.
The televised portion of the 2019 Juno Awards airs From London Ontario on CBC and streams through the CBC Music website.