Leonard Cohen, Gord Downie and Sarah McLachlan dominate 2017 Juno Awards
OTTAWA – Even from the afterlife, Leonard Cohen is still dominating the Canadian music scene, with his swan song You Want it Darker taking home Album of the Year honours at the Juno Awards in Ottawa Sunday.
The record, the 14th and final album from the legendary Montreal-born songwriter, was released on Oct. 21, just three weeks before Cohen passed away at age 82.
Cohen was also posthumously awarded Artist of the Year at Saturday night’s gala, and his legacy was honoured in an emotional tribute Sunday courtesy of Feist, who performed Cohen’s Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, following an introduction from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.
Trudeau called Cohen “one of the greatest artists Canada has ever produced,” and recalled the friendship the Montrealer enjoyed with his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
“We recognized ourselves in what he wrote,” said Grégoire Trudeau.
Cohen was also nominated for Songwriter of the Year, an award that went to Gord Downie, who also won three Juno awards the previous night, including Rock Album of the Year for The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem, and for Adult Alternative Album of the Year for his own Secret Path, the story of Chanie Wenjack.
In a pre-recorded message, Downie thanked Canadians for their support of Secret Path, saying he hoped the album would be used to teach younger generations about truth and reconciliation.
“Thank you for following the sound you’ve sort of been hearing your entire life, for recognizing that we aren’t completely Canada yet,” Downie said. “My dream would be that this record might help people.”
The Tragically Hip were also named Group of the Year on the biggest night in Canadian music, with bandmates Rob Baker and Paul Langlois thanking just about everyone ever associated with the band, including Downie, before they were ushered off stage to the sound of their own music on the house speakers.
Shawn Mendes was awarded the Fan Choice award in the show’s finale.
Russell Peters and Bryan Adams showed off some early comic hijinks in an introductory skit featuring a cameo from the Prime Minister, who made a special request – an unnecessary one, as it turned out — for Adams’ iconic Summer of ’69, which was later performed with an all-star cast.
Peters and Adams stepped in to host after crooner Michael Bublé cancelled to care for his young son, who was diagnosed with liver cancer last fall.
The show kicked off earnestly with Buffy Sainte-Marie recognizing the “enduring presence of all First Nations, Inuit and Metis,” amid traditional indigenous dancers and the thundering beats of Ottawa’s A Tribe Called Red, featuring Tanya Tagaq.
Breakthrough Artist of Year winner, Edmonton singer-songwriter Ruth B., was elated as she took the stage. “The one thing I always wanted to hear on this stage — it doesn’t matter where you come from, no matter what you do, if you have a passion, follow it,” she said.
Jess Moskaluke won for Country Album of the Year for her sophomore album Kiss Me Quiet. “This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done – I didn’t even put shoes on,” she laughed.
Rap superstar Drake, who was honoured Saturday with an award for international achievement, was shut out of six other nominations — for the year’s best single, album, artist, rap recording and producer.
Drake also lost out on the Juno Fan Choice award to Shawn Mendes, who was nominated along with Hedley, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Belly, Ruth B., The Weeknd, Tory Lanez and The Strumbellas.
Alessia Cara, with a shout-out to her Brampton hometown, took the award for Pop Album of the Year.
Sarah McLachlan was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. “I have the best job in the world,” said McLachlan. “Music is my church. It’s my comfort and salvation. Because of music my life has deeper meaning and a powerful sense of purpose.”
McLachlan performed World On Fire in a broadcast that also featured songs from Dallas Smith, Shawn Mendes, July Talk, The Strumbellas, Ruth B., Arkells, Alessia Cara and Billy Talent.
But they saved the best for last, with Adams rocking out Summer of ’69, joined by an all-star cast of the evening’s winners and nominees.
TOP JUNO AWARDS, 2017
Album of the Year:
You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen
Artist of the Year:
Group of the Year:
The Tragically Hip
Man Machine Poem, The Tragically Hip
Adult Alternative Album:
Secret Path, Gord Downie
Know-It-All, Alessia Cara
Spirits, The Strumbellas
Kiss Me Quiet, Jess Moskaluke
Hotel Paranoia, Jazz Cartier
Starboy, The Weeknd