Five things to watch: Canada’s solid presence at the Grammys

Alessia Cara, Justin Bieber, Leonard Cohen, Michael Buble all up for awards

Justin Bieber performs in the rain on NBC’s “Today” show at Rockefeller Plaza on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Justin Bieber performs in the rain on NBC’s “Today” show at Rockefeller Plaza on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Music fans won’t need to look far at Sunday’s Grammy Awards for signs of Canadian talent.

While a strong presence of homegrown musicians often graces the industry’s biggest awards event, this year the hopefuls look mighty plentiful.

More than 20 Grammy categories are stacked with at least one Canadian nominee, which means about a quarter of the total awards could have a winner from the north.

Among them is Alessia Cara, who has four nominations, while Justin Bieber is a contender for three golden gramophones. Leonard Cohen’s final album scored two nods.

Broadway hit “Come From Away” is up for best musical theater album in a stacked category of acclaimed productions, while Bruno Mars helped Burlington, Ont.-raised sound engineer Charles Moniz score three nominations for his album “24K Magic.”

Many of the awards will be handed out at the Grammys’ “premiere ceremony,” streamed online Sunday afternoon before the telecast.

The Grammy Awards main event, which moves to New York to mark its 60th year, begins Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on CityTV and CBS.

Here are some of the Canadians who could grab attention:

Cara’s arrival

Buzz around pop star Cara picked up a while ago, but the Grammys only just got behind the pint-sized singer from Brampton, Ont., this year. She’s nominated in four categories — including for best new artist where many awards prognosticators think she has a good chance of winning. Cara could also share a few Grammys with others, including best pop duo/group performance with Zedd for “Stay” and song and video of the year for Logic’s “1-800-273-8255.” She’ll also perform the anti-suicide anthem alongside suicide attempt survivors selected by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

‘Despacito’ drop in?

Don’t hold your breath, but there’s always a chance Justin Bieber swings by Madison Square Garden to drop a Spanish verse on last summer’s inescapable “Despacito.” While the song was originally by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, who are both slated to perform, it was the Stratford, Ont., singer’s voice that made it a chart topper. With the track up for three Grammys, the superstar might want to celebrate a landmark in Latin music, but history suggests he probably won’t. Bieber isn’t exactly an eager Grammy participant — last year he skipped the ceremony where he was nominated four times.

Caesar pleaser

Daniel Caesar’s sudden rise to fame gave Torontonians plenty to cheer about last year, but it’s his two Grammy nominations that could prove the icing on the cake for a stellar first chapter in his career. The singer is contending for best R&B performance for “Get You,” while his 2017 release “Freudian” is up for R&B album.

Shaffer’s showtime

He’s played alongside many of music’s biggest names, so it’s fitting that Paul Shaffer was asked to participate in the Grammys’ momentous year. The former “Late Show with David Letterman” bandleader from Thunder Bay, Ont., hosts the pre-telecast ceremony where 70 awards will be handed out in various genre categories. Not only will he oversee the show, but he’ll also serve as musical director while his Most Dangerous Band is slated as the house band. The “Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony” will stream live on the Grammys website on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

And the rest

Some of Canada’s biggest acts will by vying for awards before in Shaffer’s pre-broadcast ceremony. Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now” is nominated for alternative album, the Weeknd’s “Starboy” is among the urban contemporary album contenders, and Michael Buble’s “Nobody But Me” is pitted against Sarah McLachlan’s “Wonderland” for best traditional pop vocal album. Often musicians choose to skip this lower-profile event and at least one has confirmed they won’t be there for certain. Before McLachlan’s nomination was announced she had already booked a Hawaii surfing vacation.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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