“Hi, it’s Bublé.”
With these words from this year’s host, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) press conference announcing the 2013 JUNO Awards nominees began. Hosted this year in Regina and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan from April 15 – 21, the annual awards show celebrating the highest honours in Canadian music will this year feature performances by nominees Billy Talent and Marianas Trench, Carly Rae Jepson and Michael Bublé himself, among others, and also promises a fantastically diverse range of artists going toe-to-toe in each category.
While the hall in The Design Exchange building on Bay St was packed to the gills with industry folk – artists, PR, management and media from across the board – Michael Bublé himself was present only virtually, in a video introduction that was projected onto the large screen behind the podium at the front of the room.
Before he appeared, though, Saskatchewan’s own Belle Plaine in a black polka dot dress, backed by keyboard and upright bass, serenaded the mingling attendees with mellow jazz selections from her album, Notes from a Waitress. After this, a fast-paced montage of past JUNO wins and performances culminated in a clip of the Sheepdogs, bringing the awards back to the home of the hottest new band out of the prairies.
But once the categories and nominees were announced, it looked like Carly Rae Jepson got that call she was waiting for. Sweeping through with five nominations, she is up for both Album of the Year and Pop Album of the Year for Kiss, Single of the Year for (what else?) “Call Me Maybe”, Artist of the Year, and the JUNO Fan Choice Award.
The fact that she’s sharing the latter award with Canadian heavyweights from all across the board – Céline Dion, Drake, Hedley, Justin Bieber, Leonard Cohen, Marianas Trench, Metric, Michael Bublé and Nickelback, to be precise – is a fair indicator of how quickly she’s become a beloved part of Canadian pop culture.
Close behind her in terms of number of nominations is that other un-ignorable Canadian pop star. Justin Bieber will be contending for Album of the Year, Juno Fan Choice, Artist of the Year, and Pop Album of the Year.
As the Huffington Post notes, the JUNOs are one award show where everyone gets celebrated – and this is evident in categories from Producer of the Year to Recording Package of the Year celebrating the best album cover designs. But CTV’s head of Programming and Sports, Phil King, put it well when he noted that the JUNOs are, “…an opportunity to come together to celebrate diverse Canadian talent.”
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the JUNO Fan Choice Award – I mean, it has Carly Rae Jepson AND Leonard Cohen in the mix. Good luck trying to call that one.
Another noteworthy announcement was k.d. lang’s imminent induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The Canadian singer-songwriter has long been established as a groundbreaker in the worlds of country and pop music, with 8 JUNOs and 4 Grammys over a 25 year career to prove it. She will be recognized with the honour at the Sunday, April 21 awards ceremony broadcast on CTV from Regina’s Brandt Centre.
This year’s JUNOs are also something of a breakthrough for a number of artists – and not just those in the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award category! Toronto’s own indie-rock/alt-country outfit, The Strumbellas, received a nomination in the Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group category for their debut album, My Father and the Hunter.
Asked for a reaction afterwards to the nomination, lead vocalist Simon Ward said,
“It feels ecstatic! We’re super, super excited. We’re gonna go get hammered in like 20 minutes.” And to the laughter of his bandmates, he added,
“From now on when we meet girls, it’ll be like, “JUNO nominee, alright?” Like, that’s why we do this, you know!”
Another first-time nominee is pop starlet Kristina Maria, up for Pop Album of the Year for Tell The World.
“It’s incredible, I mean, I’ve been dreaming about [being part of the JUNOs] since I was 14. So it’s a big deal for me, very exciting!”
She acknowledges the daunting company she faces in her category – Carly Rae Jepson, Justin Bieber, Nelly Furtado and Victoria Duffield – but says that the honour of being nominated beside them more than makes up for it.
“That’s a tough crowd you know, it’s tough, and I’m so proud to be up there with them, to be nominated alongside them, and it’s a really exciting feeling. We’ve worked – my manager Vito and I – we’ve worked so hard on this bad boy that it’s fun to have some recognition finally, you know?”
Past nominee Royal Wood is honoured to be up again this year for his record, We Were Born to Glory – but with his current tour schedule promoting the album, he says it’s a matter of squeezing in the April 21 ceremony into an already packed itinerary!
“I’m swamped. There’s lots of touring, lots of writing going on these days. Travelling everywhere, so I just have to slot it in and make sure I’m there. I think I’m in Vancouver, then I fly back, then I have something in Quebec and then I have to fly back out to Regina for this. Jet lag…a little jet lag is always good.”
He says he’s happy to be a part of this year’s JUNO awards, but adds,
“I’m thrilled to see so many of my other peers and friends nominated this year, so it was a banner year for music. Incredible records were made in 2012.”
Another previous nominee, JRDN, was present at the press conference – on the other side of the table this time, presenting the nominees for Artist of the Year alongside Toronto songstress, Alyssa Reid. When asked how it felt to participate this way, he said,
“It feels good just to, you know, to be invited, I’m honoured, it just says a lot. I think somebody likes me here (laughs). I’m not nominated this year, but to come out and support the nominees, and be a part of it – I mean, I’m a part of Canadian music, so to be at the highest level with the JUNO Awards is amazing.”
Another performer happy to be included in this year’s JUNO Awards is Montréal-based jazz vocalist and children’s entertainer, Jennifer Gasoi. She is up for an award in the Children’s Album of the Year Category for her album Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well, the same category she was nominated in at the 2005 JUNO Awards. This year, she has a lot of plans for the time between the nomination and the awards week in April.
“I’m going to really try and use this as a platform to push myself to get out there more,” she says. “So I’m going to try and get something going on in Regina, if I can get some kids shows there I would love to do that. I’m going to get all my stuff together, my press kit, everything that’s kind of been okay but now I’m taking it to the next level, and I’m going to get my Facebook happening, and my Twitter. But mostly I’m just going to enjoy each moment, and that’s really what my album is about and what my life is about, is like, this moment not that moment.”
For more information about the 2013 JUNO Awards, as well as a full list of nominees and categories, head on over to junoawards.ca
Photos from the press conference: