The Weeknd may boycott future Grammy Awards, but the “Blinding Lights” singer swept the Juno Awards, the biggest night in Canadian music, on Sunday.
The Toronto-born R&B superstar won for best artist and best album during a virtual telecast on the CBC network. The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) also owned the Junos weekend as he nabbed an earlier three trophies for best song for “Blinding Lights,” best contemporary R&B recording and best songwriter along with co-writers Belly and Jason “DaHeala” Quenneville during the opening night virtual prize giving.
The Weeknd came into the Canadian music awards with a field-leading six nominations. Justin Bieber opened the mostly pre-taped Juno Awards by virtually performing “Somebody” from Los Angeles. The Canadian-born superstar also won for best pop album for Changes after being nominated for five Juno awards this year, including Juno fan choice, single of the year, album of the year, artist of the year and pop album of the year.
The Juno Fan Choice Award, presented by Canadian actor Will Arnett and The Basement Gang, went for the third time to Shawn Mendes. For the second year running, the Junos were staged as an online awards show due to pandemic lockdowns.
Elsewhere on Sunday night, Toronto artist Savannah Re won for best traditional R&B/soul recording for “Solid,” and JP Saxe was named the best breakthrough artist on Sunday night. “Wow, thank you! I’ve never given a speech like this before,” Saxe said after earning his trophy. Saxe and Julia Michaels performed the song “If The World Was Ending” from a Los Angeles soundstage.
Mary Piercey-Lewis was named as the MusiCounts teacher of the year for her work at the Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in Canada’s far north. Juno presenters Buffy Sainte-Marie and Susan Aglukark during their Junos appearances remembered 215 indigenous children who were recently found in a gruesome mass grave on the grounds of a former indigenous residential school run by the Catholic Church in Kamloops, British Columbia, where they had been students undergoing forced assimilation into the white Canadian culture.
Other Juno presenters included Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara, Kaytranada, Michael Bublé, Shania Twain, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush. And the Canadian music awards show on its 50th anniversary included pre-taped recollections by Celine Dion, Robbie Robertson and Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle.
Also Sunday night, Anne Murray introduced Jann Arden, who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. “I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me over the years. And, oddly enough, I am also very grateful for the ones who did not, because they only served to make me stronger,” Arden said while accepting her honor.
On Friday night, in other earlier prize giving, JJ Wilde won for best rock album for Ruthless — the first woman to win in that category since 1996 when Alanis Morissette won best rock album for Jagged Little Pill. And Leela Gilday won for best indigenous artist, while Harry Styles picked up the best international album for Fine Line.
This year’s Juno Awards included Ali Gatie and Tate McCrae singing duets for “Lie to Me” and “What If I Told You That I Loved You” from Los Angeles, Jessie Reyez singing “Do You Love Her” and “Before Love Came to Kill Us,” again from Los Angeles. And indigenous artist William Prince was joined by Serena Ryder in performing The Spark from a church in Toronto, and the Junos ended with The Tragically Hip and Feist performing “It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken” from the historic Massey Hall in Toronto.