The weather gods smiled upon the 51st Annual Juno Awards Broadcast in Toronto on May 15, helping turn the event into a rousing success. For the first time ever, the event was held at an outdoor venue (Budweiser Stage), so advance forecasts of rain must have caused CARAS head Allan Reid and his team real stress. It stayed away, while a serious array of established and emerging Canadian talent showed up and delivered in style. Major honours were bestowed upon Deborah Cox and Shawn Mendes, and awards were handed out in the five final categories, following the 41 plaques handed out the evening before at the Opening Night Junos (our report here).
The winners on this night were Arkells, Jessia, Shawn Mendes, Haviah Mighty, and Charlotte Cardin, whose victory for Album of the Year with Phoenix upped her tally to four wins, making her the most decorated artist of the 2022 Junos.
The focus of the Broadcast show was on live performances, not trophy presentations and acceptance speeches, and the high quality of those performances, the staging, and the sound made this arguably one of the very best Juno Awards yet.
Beginning with a rousing rally cry from Arkells (Group of the Year winner) and closing out with Unconditional I (Lookout Kid), a typically anthemic new song from an enlarged Arcade Fire, the show managed to pack in 11 performances in its two-hour duration.
These included Deborah Cox and Avril Lavigne performing medleys of some of their many well-known hit songs.
It was a huge night for Cox, inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by her friend, NBA star Chris Bosh. In her eloquent acceptance speech, the R&B star/actor from Toronto, the first Black woman to enter the Hall of Fame, reflected upon her long and often difficult journey to chart-topping success, noting that “all those early rejections added fuel to my fire.” Amongst those paying tribute to her via video were the US music industry greats Clive Davis, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and John Legend.
Honoured on the night with the prestigious Juno International Achievement Award was Shawn Mendes. This award has only been handed out eight other times, and reflects the pop heartthrob’s global success. In his acceptance speech, Mendes noted that “I really thought if I could just write one big hit, some people would like me, and then I would be enough. We’re taught to believe that what we achieve is the same thing as what we are worth. But something I know to be true now is that I was enough before anybody knew my name. I’m just here to tell you that while you are chasing your dreams, don’t forget to enjoy the process. And remember, you’re already enough.”
Making his evening even more special was his win in the TikTok Juno Fan Choice category (his 13th Juno), with Mendes declaring onstage that “fans are everything. I love you guys!”
Host/Marvel star Simu Liu carried out his duties with charm, though his early “I Am Canadian” spiel was a touch too reliant on cliches (snowboarding, Tim Horton’s etc.).
A far better representation of what Canada in 2022 looks and sounds like came from riveting performances by Mustafa, Haviah Mighty (an Allan Slaight Juno Master Class alumni who won in the Rap Album/EP of the Year category), and Snotty Nose Rez Kids with DJ Shub.
Helping make this perhaps the most political of Junos to date, these artists addressed issues of systemic anti-black and Indigenous racism and female empowerment with passion and precision. Kudos to the Junos for giving these important talents a major platform.
Also delivering spirited performances on the night were Charlotte Cardin, Tesher, bbno$, and Lauren Spencer-Smith.
One other honour handed out was the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, presented by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation. This went to Canadian music educator Darren Hamilton (David Suzuki Secondary School, Brampton, ON), recognising his impact not only on students but also on his community and the music education field.
While the Canadian music industry can take pride in the global popularity of superstars such as The Weeknd, Drake, and Justin Bieber, the 2022 Juno Awards dramatically demonstrated that their presence is not essential for the event to succeed.
Winners Sunday at the 51st annual Juno Awards
Rap Album/EP of the year: Stock Exchange, Haviah Mighty
Group of the year: Arkells
Canadian Music Hall of Fame: Deborah Cox
International Achievement Award: Shawn Mendes
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Jessia
Album of the Year: Phoenix, Charlotte Cardin
TikTok Juno Fan Choice: Shawn Mendes
See a full list of Juno Award winners here.
The 51st Annual Juno Awards broadcast can be rewatched on CBC Gem, CBCMusic.ca/junos and The Juno Awards social channels.
Here’s the complete Juno Awards telecast from Sunday, May 15.