Showcasing the diversity of Canadian music, hard rockers, indie rockers, crooners and comedians unite at this year’s Juno ceremonies on Sunday at Vancouver’s GM Place.
“Having all those artists together on stage is … the best way to showcase the diversity of the Canadian industry,” said festival organizer and Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) president Melanie Berry. “Some Bryan Adams or Sarah McLaughlin fans don’t know City and Colour, and watching this performance is part of that process of discovery.”
Since she became involved in 2003, Berry’s watched the event gain momentum as it’s moved across the country over the years. Along with the two-hour broadcasted ceremony, this year’s four-day celebration features a JunoCup face-off between NHL Alumni and Rockers, a free outdoor Juno Fan Fest, and the weekend JunoFest, which takes place at 19 Vancouver venues.
Kicking off with the most pyrotechnics yet seen on Canadian television, the ceremony is hosted by comedian Russell Peters. Loverboy will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and Sarah McLachlan receives the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award. Performers include big name rockers Sam Roberts Band and Nickelback — who lead the nominees with five and four awards respectively —Bryan Adams, and Great Big Sea. Other acts like Crystal Shawanda and The Stills demonstrate the talent of up-and-coming artists.
“With the rise of the digital age, (independent Canadian artists) can be distributed and heard around the world,” said Berry. “(The Polaris Music Prize) has been all positive … Some things are different, but if you look at it, you’ll find that of the (Polaris) nominees in the past three years, 60 per cent are up for Junos, so there’s lots of crossover.”
Given the current economic situation and recent federal budget cuts to arts and culture programs, (including to the Canada Music Fund, a Juno sponsor), the music industry faces challenges.
But Berry, whose not-for-profit organization so far hasn’t been affected, points to continuing global awareness of Canada’s musicians as evidence of industry success.
“We’re all cognizant of the economy (and so planning and ticket prices for the Junos are designed) with that in mind.
“Sponsor dollars are tighter as companies tighten their belts … But being an annual event (with repeat sponsors), we’re lucky,” said Berry. “Budget cuts have hurt festivals and organizations, and it’s really a shame to see them. We’re hoping to see a reversal and funding put back in.”