Backstage at the 2016 JUNOS: Alessia Cara breakthrough winner, Burton Cummings honoured

April 04, 2016

“I may or may not have peed in a garbage can here in the ‘80s,” said the always-hilarious Jann Arden, opening the 45th Annual JUNO Awards at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome.

With 35 JUNOS out of the way, the remaining trophies were awarded during Sunday night’s televised broadcast, and the National Music Centre was backstage to take in all the action.

The Weeknd—who was in attendance, but unavailable backstage—snagged two more pieces of hardware for Single of the Year for his ubiquitous hit “I Can’t Feel My Face,” beating out Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” and also secured the coveted Album of the Year award, bringing his JUNO weekend total to five wins.

The 2016 JUNO Awards. The Weeknd, winner - Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016.The Weeknd ended his 2016 JUNOS with five awards. Credit: CARAS/iPhoto.

Backstage the media room was abuzz, speculating if Justin Bieber would make a surprise appearance. The “Sorry” singer nabbed a JUNO Fan Choice Award, his fifth since 2011. He was a no-show for the awards, but sent in a video message to thank his fans.

Rulers of the world Walk off the Earth were handed a Group of the Year award, while country favourite Dean Brody picked up a JUNO for Country Album of the Year, his third JUNO since 2014’s Crop Circles.

Walk off the Earth_crBrandonWallis
Walk off the Earth, winners of Group of the Year. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

19-year-old Brampton, Ontario singer Alessia Cara took home a Breakthrough Artist of the Year trophy. Cara’s star rose to terrestrial heights over the past year with her debut single, “Here,” which also landed her a Top 10 slot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, alongside fellow Canucks The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and Shawn Mendes.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s happening,” she said of her win backstage. “It hasn’t processed in my brain yet…I still feel like I’m floating above myself.”

P1100555_crBrandonWallisAlessia Cara, winner of Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be Canadian,” she continued. “I’ve been to so many places in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel everywhere, and the number one question I get is ‘What’s in the water in Canada?’ It’s amazing to know that the whole world is recognizing us. It’s really cool.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi also stopped in backstage with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson—whose city will host the JUNO Awards in 2017, also the year of Canada’s 150th birthday—to note the economic impact of the JUNOS in Calgary.

The 2016 JUNO Awards. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016.Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Credit: CARAS/iPhoto.

“One of the reasons that we’re doing the Year of Music this year is to have kind of a different view of the city of Calgary as we’re facing this economic downturn, so that people across Canada are thinking of us as a place of creativity and innovation,” Mayor Nenshi told reporters.

“The direct economic impact of hosting the JUNOS this week, we think that’s between 10 and 15 million dollars to Calgary. But the long-term impact is much greater.”

Winnipeg rock ‘n’ roll stalwart Burton Cummings was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the televised broadcast with the help of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger.

“My mother is such a fan of Cummings, she wanted to name me Burton,” said Kroeger from the stage.

It was the second induction for Cummings—this time for his solo work. The Guess Who’s 68-year-old former frontman was previously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987 with his Guess Who bandmates.

The 2016 JUNO Awards. Hall of Fame inductee Burton Cummings, introduced by Nickelback. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016.

The 2016 JUNO Awards. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Burton Cummings. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016.Winnipeg rock icon Burton Cummings was formally inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame on Sunday night. Credit: CARAS/iPhoto.

Accepting his award during the live telecast, a tearful Cummings dedicated the award to his hometown of Winnipeg. Backstage he elaborated on what the city means to him.

“I was born and raised there. I learned everything there to equip me for the world,” he said. “I took my first piano lessons there, I first heard Elvis on the radio there…All of my firsts are there…You only get one first and you only get one true hometown.”

While the singer-songwriter is still touring and releasing the occasional bit of new material, don’t expect a Guess Who reunion anytime soon. “That ship has sailed,” Cummings said.

He also praised Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, where he added his name plaque on Friday, as part of his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

“The building is stunning. It looks great on Calgary and it looks great on Canada,” he said. “I’m going to dig up some stuff now. I’ve been all over the world for the last 40 years or so, and I’ve collected some great stuff, and a lot of it is sitting in storage, so this is a perfect opportunity to put some of that memorabilia on the wall that will stay there forever.”

The full list of 2016 JUNO Awards winners is here.

—Julijana Capone

About the Author

Julijana Capone

Originally from Winnipeg, Julijana is NMC’s senior publicist and the managing editor of Amplify. In addition to her role at NMC, she is the founder of Light of Day Publicity, a company she formed to promote the work of emerging Canadian artists.

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