Gord Downie and Diana Krall both emerged double winners at Saturday’s Juno Awards pre-telecast ceremony in a night that carried a number of political and social undercurrents.
Some musicians took time to recognize the huge protests against gun violence in the United States earlier in the day, which captured headlines and left some musicians voicing their support.
“I just want to give a shout out to all of our brothers and sisters down South that are protesting today — protesting gun laws,” said Arcade Fire’s Win Butler as he accepted the international achievement award.
“Canada is a beautiful example of how it doesn’t have to be like that.”
Downie’s brother Mike spoke about awareness of Indigenous issues as he accepted a win for “Introduce Yerself,” the final album of the Tragically Hip frontman. Gord Downie also shared a songwriter win for the album.
“There’s a ribbon of Indigeneity running right down the middle of our flag,” Mike said while standing alongside his brother Patrick.
“This country’s changing, and it’s changing for the better.”
Krall came away with two awards for her album “Turn Up the Quiet.” She scored vocal jazz album and the producer of the year award.
Denise Donlon, a former MuchMusic VJ in the 1980s, received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for a career that also includes years as a record industry executive.
In her speech she addressed the lack of female representation in the music industry, which has been a much-discussed subject in recent years at the Junos. She finished by calling on men in the audience to rise from their chairs as a symbolic commitment of support for more women in music.
“I really did feel like we’re actually starting to move the needle a little bit on this,” Donlon said afterwards, acknowledging the idea was partly inspired by Frances McDormand’s rousing Oscar speech on “inclusion riders.”
Other winners included Michael Buble, who hosts the televised Junos show on Sunday. He took home adult contemporary album for “Nobody But Me.”
The Shawn Mendes hit ”There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” won single of the year, though he was absent from the event.
Ivan Decker became the first comedy album winner in 33 years with ”I Wanted to Be a Dinosaur.” The prize was last given in 1984 to Bob and Doug McKenzie — the pair of iconic beer swigging hosers played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.
“Obviously Bob and Doug were too good, they were just going to have to give it to them every year,” Decker said in pondering why the award might’ve been shelved for years.
“Last time it was given away I wasn’t even born.”
Fred Penner snagged children’s album of the year for “Hear the Music,” his collaborative project that features appearances by Canadian artists including Basia Bulat and Ron Sexsmith.
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s politically charged album of songs about unity and resistance, “Medicine Songs,” won the Indigenous music album award.
Bruce Cockburn’s “Bone on Bone,” which dabbled in political commentary at times, grabbed contemporary roots album.
Kendrick Lamar scored the international album of the year award for “Damn,” after the rapper lost to Bruno Mars a couple months ago at the Grammys. The point wasn’t lost on Arcade Fire’s Butler who brought it up on stage and in the media room.
“I just wanted to say that I’m really happy Kendrick won too,” Butler said.
“It was (expletive) that he lost at the Grammys.”
Sunday night’s televised show will hand out the remaining awards, including album, group and breakthrough artist as well as country album of the year.
Viewers can also vote for the Juno Fan Choice Award on the Juno Fan Choice website.
The show airs on CBC and streams through the CBC Music website.
David Friend, The Canadian Press