Avril Takes Juno Hat-Trick

With three awards, Avril Lavigne led the pack at Canada's 34th Annual Juno Awards, held last night (April 3) at Winnipeg's MTS Centre. Lavigne, who is currently on tour in the Far East, won artist of

With three awards, Avril Lavigne led the pack at Canada's 34th Annual Juno Awards, held last night (April 3) at Winnipeg's MTS Centre. Lavigne, who is currently on tour in the Far East, won artist of the year and the fan-voted Juno Fan Choice Award. She also earned the pop album of the year award for "Under My Skin" (Arista)."

Billy Talent beat out competition from Great Big Sea, Simple Plan, Sum 41 and the Tragically Hip to win group of the year honors. The band also won the album of the year award for its self-named debut Atlantic/WEA release, on the heels of being named best new artist in 2004. "Last year's win didn't quite feel real," band member Ian D'Sa told Billboard.com. "These wins make it feel real."

Other multiple winners included Calgary-born, Paris-based singer Leslie Feist and Toronto rapper K-OS. Feist was named best new artist and won the alternative album category for her Arts & Crafts album "Let It Die." K-OS won top single for his Virgin release "Crabbuckit" and his album "Joyful Rebellion" was named top rap recording.

In other categories, Sum 41 took top rock album honors for its Aquarius album "Chuck;" screamcore band Alexisonfire was named top new group; Ron Sexsmith won top songwriter honors for the fourth year in a row; and George Canyon won for country recording with his debut "One Good Friend" (Universal South), beating out a field that included recordings by Shania Twain, Terri Clark, Paul Brandt and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

Hosted by Canadian TV star Brent Butt, the CTV network-televised gala featured performances by k.d. lang, Simple Plan, K-OS, Feist, Alexisonfire and Billy Talent. "It's great to be back performing at the Junos," lang told Billboard.com of her first performance at the event in over a decade. "It was fantastic"

As previously reported, Neil Young had to cancel his planned appearance while recovering from surgery last Tuesday to address a brain aneurysm. His illness forced Juno organizers to quickly revamp the televised show. Instead of closing with Winnipeg's favorite son Young as planned, ex-Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings and ex-Guess Who/Bachman-Turner Overdrive guitarist Randy Bachman performed a medley of Guess Who and BTO hits for a cheering crowd of 12,000.