Arcade Fire and fast-rising young star Jessie Reyez top the nominations list for the 2018 Juno Awards with four apiece. Receiving three nominations each are Arkells, Gord Downie, Hedley and Ruth B.
The formal announcement of contenders was made Tuesday morning by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) at a press conference at The Great Hall in Toronto. The categories expanded by one this year with the reinstatement of the Comedy Album of the Year category
For a complete list of the 2018 nominations and biographies of the nominees, visit junoawards.ca.
Those addressing the press conference included CARAS President and CEO Allan Reid, Mark Cohon, chair of the CARAS Board of Directors, and Heather Conway, Executive Vice-President, English Services, at CBC/Radio-Canada.
Reid addressed timely issues in his address. “There are very important conversations happening in our world right now around gender equality and sexual harassment,” he said. “It is critical that we work collectively as an industry to support a larger representation of women in music and encourage a culture that nurtures their participation and success.”
Reid cited the introduction of a scholarship for women in the field of production and engineering as one such step.
2018 marks the return of the CBC as the broadcast partner of the Juno Awards, following a long partnership with CTV. Conway paid tribute to Randy Lennox and Bell Media "for championing Canadian talent so strongly."
Allan Reid told FYI at the press conference that he is thrilled at the new partnership with CBC. "They are who we are. It is all music, all genres, and proudly Canadian. It fits perfectly with who we are as an organization, and they have already been doing so much for us. There are new partnerships in place, such as having the winner of CBC's Searchlight contest now being part of the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class."
Reid is excited that CBC is designating March 25, the date of the Juno Awards broadcast, as Music Day, with Radio One, Radio Two, and other platforms dedicated to the celebration of Canadian music.
In attendance at The Great Hall were two recipients of special 2018 Juno Awards. Denise Donlon will receive the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for her long-standing commitment to Canadian music, while Barenaked Ladies will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during a one-time special appearance with former member Steven Page at the Junos in Vancouver.
Barenaked Ladies singer Ed Robertson repped the band at the press conference. He told FYI that "being on the same list as such musical heroes as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young is just mind-boggling." Looking back to early gigs at Toronto's Ultrasound club, he acknowledges that "if you'd told me then we'd make the Hall of Fame I'd have laughed you out of the room. By that time we'd been turned down by every major label in Canada and were thinking this is just something we'd do before starting university. Now it is 30 years on and 15 million records sold!"
Also to be presented at the Juno Awards is the 2018 Humanitarian Award, with the recipient being Canadian philanthropist and music industry icon Gary Slaight. Allan Reid termed Slaight's dedication to worthy causes and Canadian music "inspiring."
At the press conference, we interviewed many of the nominees in attendance. All seemed genuinely thrilled at the honour while acknowledging the positive impact a nomination or win can have on a career.
Jazz pianist/composer Hilario Duran is up for Jazz Album of the Year: Solo for Contumbao. It is his fourth nomination, and he has won two Juno Awards. "It still feels good," he says. "I'm very happy about this one because the album is very personal. I went all the way back to my Cuban roots with it."
A previous nominee with a similar reaction is blues guitarist/singer Steve Strongman, nominated for Blues Album of the Year for No Time Like Now. "This is my third nomination, and it is still an absolutely amazing feeling. I'm especially thrilled because I made a record that pushed the boundaries a little bit. It's nice to see people still have something of an open mind."
"Getting a nomination definitely brings up the profile and it gets you more attention in the industry. Everyone in Canada understands what it means to get a Juno."
Drummer/composer/bandleader Ernesto Cervini is up for Jazz Album of the Year: Group for Rev, by Ernesto Cervini's Turboprop.
"This wonderful recognition on such a public platform is a wonderful way to highlight the incredible music that is being made across Canada," he says. "The beauty of the Junos is that it honours all styles of music from every corner of Canada, and helps to educate the Canadian public about our wonderful and diverse music scene. I’m so thrilled to be included in this list of amazing musicians."
Matt Dusk is up for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for Old School Yule!, his fourth nomination. He tells FYI that "I don't really care whether I win or not. When I see the people nominated in my category I have such respect for them. So just to be able to pal around with them and pick their brains is fun."
He'll definitely be at the Junos, joking that "it's an excuse to have a weekend without my family where I can party! I wouldn't miss it for the world." To Dusk, a nomination "does help oil the machine and keep the gears rolling."
After being nominated last year in the Blues Album category, the genre-defying Whitehorse is in the running for Adult Alternative Album of the Year, for Panther In The Dollhouse. "That last nomination was 365 days ago, so it's not a novelty," jokes Luke Doucet.
He and musical/personal partner Melissa McClelland will definitely be on hand in Vancouver. "I used to live there, and Melissa's best friend and Sarah McLachlan [with whom the duo often work] are out there," says Doucet.
As a former member of A Tribe Called Red, DJ Shub has been up for a Juno before, but he gets his first nomination as a solo artist this year via his album PowWowStep, in the Indigenous Album of the Year category.
"This will definitely help me get attention," he says. He is also proud of the impact Indigenous artists are now having. "It has been a long time coming, but we are really pushing into the mainstream now, from Buffy Sainte-Marie and A Tribe Called Red to Tanya Tagaq and Iskwe."
Reggae veteran Blessed is no stranger to the Junos. He has been nominated eight times in the Reggae Recording of the Year category, and is nominated this year for "Hold Up Slow Down." He has won once, in 2002 for "Love (African Woman)," but is not jaded about the regular recognition. "A Juno is like the top of music in Canada, so it's a great feeling," he says.