April 03, 2016
While Toronto native Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. The Weeknd) wasn’t actually in attendance, he was nevertheless crowned king of the night at Saturday’s JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards, where 35 trophies were handed out.
The triple win for his chart-topping third full-length album, Beauty Behind the Madness, marked the end of a massive year for Tesfaye, who won two 2016 Grammys in February and landed an Oscar nod for his track, “Earned It,” off the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.
He was also among the Canadian artists—including fellow JUNO-nominees Drake, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, and Alessia Cara—who dominated the Billboard Top 100 with seven of the Top 10 spots.
Close behind Tesfaye was legendary singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, who walked away with two wins. Speaking to reporters backstage, after her win for Aboriginal Album of the Year (she also won for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year), she talked about her hope that the JUNOS would include both a contemporary and traditional category for Indigenous artists in the future.
Buffy Sainte-Marie accepting award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. Credit: CARAS/iPhoto.
“There are new traditional styles of music being composed everyday,” she said. “There are all kinds of traditional music: there’s dance music, there’s fun music, there’s sacred music, there’s culture music—Cree music is pretty different from Dene music. It would be really nice to find some kind of way for the rest of Canada to come to appreciate all our different styles.”
Elsewhere, Breakthrough Album of the Year went to husband-and-wife duo Dear Rouge—also the winners of the 2012 Peak Performance Project—for their debut full-length album, Black to Gold. They weren’t the only power couple in the house to go home with hardware, however. Folk-rock act Whitehorse won Adult Alternative Album of the Year—and best dressed of the night, FYI.
Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland of Whitehorse, winners of Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
It was a full circle moment for acclaimed producer Bob Ezrin, who won a Jack Richardson Producer of the Year award, so named after his late mentor who passed away in 2011. Ezrin, the world-renowned Canadian producer known for his work with Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Pink Floyd, and Peter Gabriel, began his career working alongside Richardson. He took a moment backstage to acknowledge his mentor.
Producer Bob Ezrin, winner of the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year award. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
“This award is named after the man that gave me a career, Jack Richardson,” said Ezrin backstage. “He taught me everything that I know about production and a lot of what I know about life. I may be prouder of this than just about anything else that’s happened before.”
Ezrin also responded to questions about his recent online beef with Kanye West. “My children are still waiting for their Yeezys,” Ezrin joked. “I didn’t really expect it to blow up like that. I went to bed blissfully unaware on Sunday night and woke up to a changed world on Monday morning…it was great.”
Burton Cummings introduced the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for Rosalie Trombley, the former music director of Windsor, Ontario’s CKLW (a.k.a. “The Big 8”).
“This is not about me. This is about Rosalie,” said Cummings, as the crowd applauded him on stage.
Known as “the girl with the golden ear,” Trombley was a pioneer for women in radio, breaking countless Canadian artists in the U.S. during her over 20-year tenure at the station—including Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” the Guess Who’s “These Eyes,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business,” and more.
“The girl with the golden ear,” Rosalie Trombley, winner of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award. Photo supplied by CARAS.
“She played our band’s records before there was a Canadian content ruling,” said Cummings. “Rosalie played ‘These Eyes,’ and ‘Laughin,’’ because she liked the songs and believed in them. She was an unbelievable supporter of us…I’ve had an unbelievable ride in show business for close to 50 years now. Without Rosalie Trombley in those early days, I really don’t think I’d be standing here talking to all of you tonight…She’s done more for the Canadian industry I think that any of us can really imagine or understand. Rosalie, I owe you so much. I will never be able to tell you or repay you, but I want you people all to know how much she means to me personally.”
Unable to accept the award in person due to health issues, her son, Tim Trombley, accepted the award on her behalf. “Over the years, I’ve heard from many women in the music industry about how Rosalie had given them the confidence to pursue their own career aspirations, particularly in an industry that was predominantly male,” he said. “She always bestowed upon other young women one of the secrets of her success, and perhaps her greatest attribute—she never ever sacrificed her integrity. Ever.”
“If mom was able to be here with you tonight, she might share with you all a touch of wisdom,” he continued. “She would say that homogenization shouldn’t be applied to music or the cultural arts. Be brave and be strong, and use your ears and take chances. Often times the reward outweighs the risks.”
Sebastien Grainger of Death from Above 1979, accepting award for Rock Album of the Year. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
Closing out the nearly four-hour event backstage, Death from Above 1979’s Sebastien Grainger offered some much-needed comic relief as he (sort of) answered questions about his band’s Rock Album of the Year win.
“Pants are Marc Jacobs. My mom made the socks,” he quipped. “Any more questions?”
The remaining awards will be doled out Sunday night during the JUNO Awards broadcast, as well as Cummings’ formal induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Bryan Adams is also expected to perform live.
Check out the full list of winners (so far) here.