April 18th, 2024

Aysanabee, Tate McRae, Tobi lead Award winners at pre-telecast Junos

By David Friend, The Canadian Press on March 24, 2024.

Canadian singer and songwriter Charlotte Cardin is seen in Montreal on Monday, March 14, 2022. Some of Canada's top musical talent is set to be toasted tonight at the Juno Awards industry gala in Halifax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

HALIFAX – Artists from three corners of Canada’s music scene emerged as big winners at the Juno Awards industry gala on Saturday as rapper Tobi, alternative singer Aysanabee and pop star Tate McRae came out on top.

Each pocketed two trophies at the invite-only event held at the Halifax Convention Centre, a precursor to Sunday’s Junos broadcast on CBC.

Oji-Cree musician Aysanabee’s “Here and Now” was named alternative album of the year, while he also won the songwriter’s award for his work on the album’s tracks.

While accepting one of his awards the musician, born Evan Pang, asked his fellow Indigenous artists in the room to stand up and be acknowledged, saying this year saw more Indigenous artists up for Junos than ever.

Representatives for the Junos say 33 Indigenous artists were nominated this year.

Signed to a record label owned by Indigenous women, Pang credited his musical predecessors and looked to a future where boundaries no longer restricted Indigenous performers within the industry.

“It was Indigenous women who opened the door for me,” he said.

“I’m going to try and take the hinges off and bring it home.”

Toronto rapper Tobi had his own reasons to celebrate boundary-breaking as his “Panic” landed rap album of the year, while its track “Someone I Knew” picked up rap single.

“We made this album with a lot of love for humanity and the marginalized people of the world,” he said from the stage.

“As we liberate the least of us, we liberate all of us.”

And while Calgary native McRae wasn’t in attendance, she landed two of the night’s biggest awards. Her pop smash “Greedy” was picked as single of the year and she won artist of the year.

Another double winner found himself amid the most surreal of Juno-winning circumstances.

Technical guru Shawn Everett won his second award of the night while standing backstage taking questions about his first.

Everett was named producer of the year as well as engineer of the year for his work with Miley Cyrus and Alabama Shakes member Brittany Howard.

Dressed in massive black platform shoes and sporting dreadlocks, Everett stopped mid-sentence as someone pointed to a live feed of the main room where he was winning his second award.

“I won? That’s crazy,” Everett said with pure befuddlement as he watched the show’s host accept the honour in his absence.

“This is a surreal moment for me. This is weird.”

Everett was later given another chance to deliver his second Juno acceptance speech, which he used to thank his manager and family.

Junos organizers say 17 awards went to first-time winners during the Saturday event.

One of them was Amanda Marshall who scored adult contemporary album of the year for “Heavy Lifting,” her comeback after two decades away from the scene, while Toronto music collective New West won breakthrough group.

Other winners at the Saturday event included Montreal pop singer Charlotte Cardin, who went into this year’s Junos with a leading six nominations. Her “99 Nights” took home pop album of the year.

And Toronto band the Beaches, who saw their single “Blame Brett” become a TikTok sensation last year, won rock album with “Blame My Ex.”

James Barker Band picked up country album for “Ahead of Our Time,” while DJ and producer Bambii’s “Infinity Club” was named electronic album of the year.

Music video of the year went to Allison Russell’s “Demons,” directed by fellow Montrealer Ethan Tobman. Russell accepted on his behalf, saying her childhood friend couldn’t attend because he was working on a project with Taylor Swift.

The Junos industry ceremony precedes Sunday’s CBC broadcast, which Nelly Furtado will host. That’s where several marquee awards will be handed out, including fan choice and album of the year.

The main Junos show will also celebrate this year’s Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, rapper Maestro Fresh Wes, and Halifax native Elliot Page will present Tegan and Sara with the humanitarian award for their work supporting LGBTQ+ youth.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2024.

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