With Juno Week in Ottawa just a month away, FYI will begin previewing some of the hotly-contested awards categories. We will introduce you to some shining new stars in the Canadian music firmament as well as reminding you of the recent achievements of some of our well-established artists.
In the former group are the nominees in the first category we'll explore, Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
This category was formerly named New Artist of the Year, the name change coming in 2013.
The first winner of the Breakthrough Artist of the Year was The Weeknd in 2013, with subsequent victors being Brett Kissel, Kiesza, and, in 2016, Alessia Cara.
The five contenders for the 2017 Juno cover the genres of pop, R&B, hiphop and folk rock, and some have already made a real mark internationally. The nominees are, in alphabetical order, Andy Shauf, Jazz Cartier, Kaytranada, Ruth B, and Tory Lanez.
Andy Shauf -(Arts & Crafts*Universal)
Andy Shauf is also nominated for a 2017 Juno for Adult Alternative Album of the Year for The Party, and as Recording Engineer of the Year, for his work on that album.
The Party has been one of the most critically-lauded Canadian albums of the last year. It made the 2016 Polaris Prize shortlist and scored rave reviews in the UK. Shauf wrote and performed all the instruments (except strings) as well as engineering and producing the album
A Sakatchewan native, Shauf now resides in Toronto. His imaginatively-arranged and lyrically perceptive material has elicited comparisons to the likes of Elliott Smith and Harry Nilsson. The Party is his second full-length album, following his 2012 debut The Bearer Of Bad News.
Jazz Cartier (Universal)
Toronto-based Jazz Cartier is also nominated for a 2017 Juno Award in the Rap Recording of the Year category, for his sophomore mixtape Hotel Paranoia.
This release follows his 2015 debut Marauding in Paradise, and both releases made the Polaris Prize longlist in consecutive years.
His Juno bio notes that “Cultivating a sound that injects intellect and imagination and a live show that’s popular for its punk rock ethos — often complete with free for-all mosh pits and gravity defying antics —Cartier is limitless and his global rap music takeover is imminent.”
Born in Haiti as Louis Kevin Celestin, Kaytranada was raised in Montreal. He began as a DJ and producer in his early teens, and, at 24, has amassed a large number of remixes and production credits.
His breakthrough as a solo artist came with the May 2016 release of his debut album, 99.9%. It featured guest appearance from such notable names as GoldLink, Aluna George, Syd, Anderson .Paak, Vic Mensa and Craig David. The album went on to win the 2016 Polaris Prize.
99.9% has earned Kaytranada a 2017 Juno Award nomination in the Electronic Album of the Year category.
Ruth B (Columbia*Sony)
It has been a whirlwind career ride for this young Edmonton-based singer/songwriter.
She first made an impact via the now defunct Vine platform, posting snippets of what would become her first single, “Lost Boy.” That song then became a huge international hit, one now multi-platinum in the US (x2), Canada (x3), Sweden (3x), the Netherlands (2x), Denmark (2x) and certified gold in Norway.
Ruth B followed that up with a very well-received EP, The Intro, and new single “Superficial Love” is quickly gaining momentum.
Last year, she opened up a North American tour for Alessia Cara, winner in this category last year, and she has been confirmed to perform at the Juno Awards in Ottawa.
She is nominated in two other categories this year, Juno Fan Choice Award and Songwriter of the Year.
Tory Lanez (Interscope*Universal)
The hiphop/R&B artistfrom Brampton, Ontario, is also nominated for a 2017 Juno Award in the Rap Recording of the Year category. This is for his debut album I Told You So, a record that has had a major impact in the US.
Lanez has a record deal with Mad Love, the Interscope-linked label run by his mentor, producer Benny Blanco. Prior to his album, he released a series of mixtapes that tipped the industry to his talent.
His 2015 single “Say It” reached the top of the rhythmic and urban radio charts and, as a pop crossover contender, hit number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, and subsequent tracks also charted. As a remixer, he has worked with Drake and DJ Khaled.