The 2021 Juno Awards kicked off on Friday night in a virtual ceremony — their first since the show was cancelled early last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On their opening night, they gave awards to JJ Wilde for rock album of the year, Alanis Morissette for adult contemporary album of the year, and cemented The Weeknd as a Junos frontrunner. He took home the most hardware, winning contemporary R&B recording of the year, songwriter of the year and single of the year.
Meanwhile, Crown Lands won breakthrough group of the year, rapper TOBi took home rap recording of the year and producer Kaytranada won dance recording of the year — a category he won a Grammy in less than three months ago.
In an interview following his win, TOBi said his career, and belief in himself, started with the support of his community.
“I came out of a university degree into a space where I felt like I was in limbo as an artist — not knowing where to go, almost quitting several times,” he told CBC News.
WATCH | TOBi wins rap recording of the year:
The Brampton, Ont. rapper said arts empowerment programs in the city like The Remix Project and RISE Edutainment helped his growth and development. Those programs, he added, allowed him to witness powerful examples of representation in the industry, which inspired him to continue moving forward.
“There are a lot of people who are the unnamed champions,” he said. “Canada punches above its weight for its artistry.”
Elsewhere, Canadian producer Wondagurl (Ebony Naomi Oshunrinde) became the first Black woman to win the Jack Richardson producer of the year award.
“It feels like a dream,” she told CBC News. “I’ve been making music since I was nine and taking it seriously when I was 12…. It’s something I’ve always wanted — to make it as a producer, and definitely [to] get this award.”
In a largely pretaped show, host Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe gave out awards alongside performances by TOBi, singer-songwriter Klô Pelgag, rock-duo Crown Lands and more.
Interspersed with those performances were more serious moments. The night started with a moment of silence to acknowledge the 215 children whose remains were discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in late May, while Crown Lands began their performance with a tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Toward the end of the show, Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) president Allan Reid announced the 51st Juno Awards would take place in Toronto for an “in-person” show.
The last time the event took place in the city was for the 40th annual Juno Awards in 2011, which were hosted by Toronto-born rapper Drake.
The Weeknd leads nominees
Going into the awards, rapper The Weeknd had the most nominations with six. He won in all three categories for which he was eligible on Friday, including his single of the year win for smash-success Blinding Lights.
He is still up for fan choice, artist of the year and album of the year for After Hours. Those awards will be handed out on Sunday, the second and final night of the ceremony.
The awards will be broadcast on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One and will stream globally at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on CBCMusic.ca/junos.
The full list of winners can also be found here.
- Rock album of the year — Ruthless, JJ Wilde
- Rap recording of the year — ELEMENTS Vol. 1, TOBi
- Songwriter of the year — The Weeknd, Belly and Jason (DaHeala) Quenneville, After Hours
- Indigenous artist or group of the year — North Star Calling, Leela Gilday
- Contemporary R&B recording of the year — After Hours, The Weeknd
- International album of the year — Fine Line, Harry Styles
- Adult alternative album of the year — Sad Hunk, Bahamas
- Dance recording of the year — BUBBA, Kaytranada
- Breakthrough group of the year — Crown Lands
- Group of the year — Arkells
- Music video of the year — No One’s in the Room, Jessie Reyez and Emma Higgins
- Adult contemporary album of the year — Such Pretty Forks in the Road, Alanis Morissette
- Alternative album of the year — Pray For It, July Talk
- Country album of the year — The Lemonade Stand, Tenille Townes