The Weeknd, Buffy Sainte-Marie & More Honored at Juno Gala Dinner & Awards

Allan Reid

Allan Reid, CARAS President and CEO, speaks to the guests at the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on April 2, 2016. 

The Weeknd was busy at rehearsals for his performance on the Sunday (April 3) Juno Awards national telecast when his name was called not once, not twice, but three times over the course of the 2016 Juno Gala Dinner & Awards in Calgary Saturday night.

Canada has had an extraordinary year, with seven of the top 10 recent Billboard Hot 100 acts hailing from the country -- three of whom will perform on the Sunday broadcast: The Weeknd, Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes.

Juno Awards Nominations 2016: The Weeknd Leads With Six Nods

Thirty-five of the 41 Juno awards, which recognize the best of Canadian music from the past year, were doled out at this private ceremony in front of 1,100 members of the music industry and many nominees. The Weeknd won the most, so far, for artist of the year, songwriter and R&B/soul recording (for his latest album, Beauty Behind the Madness).

Buffy Sainte-Marie, who won the 2015 Polaris Music Award for her album Power in the Blood, scored two statuettes for aboriginal album and contemporary roots album, a brand new category in the Juno’s 45-year history.

Buffy Sainte-Marie, winner of Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, on stage at the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on April 2, 2016. 

Other winners included: Drake for rap recording (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late); Justin Bieber for pop album (Purpose); Death From Above 1979 for rock album (The Physical World); Pomo for electronic album (The Other Day); Whitehorse for alternative album (Leave No Bridge Unburned); Calgary natives Braids for alternative album (Deep in the Iris); Johnny Reid for adult contemporary album (What Love Is All About) and its producer, Bob Ezrin, for Jack Richardson producer of the year.

The Legacy of Rosalie Trombley, Radio Pioneer Immortalized in Bob Seger's 'Rosalie' and Breaker of 'Bennie and the Jets'

Dear Rouge (aka Danielle and Drew McTaggart), which breakthrough group, told Billboard backstage that winning the award is a confidence booster. “People really believe in us in the industry -- and it’s fans getting behind us,” Danielle said. “It’s an accumulation of all of it that feels overwhelming.”

“And the whole industry, entertainment, well, just everyone, you’re always looking forward, and sometimes when you’re looking forward you miss some of the stuff,” Drew added. “So when we got the Juno nod, now the Juno win, it’s time to say, ‘Hey, let’s look back and be grateful, humbled that we’re musicians that do it as a living.”

Emilie-Claire Barlow took home vocal jazz album (Clear Day); Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, instrumental album (Never Were the Way She Was); Shawn Everett, recording engineer for his work on American rock band Alabama ShakesSound & Colour; Harrison Kennedy for blues album (This Is From Here); and Keys N Krates for dance recording (“Save Me" ft. Katy B).

Kataklysm brought some to their feet after a humble acceptance speech in which they said they’d never been recognized in their 25 years as a band. The group’s album Of Ghosts and Gods won for heavy metal album.

The Juno Awards also honored just one non-Canadian act. British singer Adele won international album for 25; and her Canadian video director, Xavier Dolan, for “Hello.”

Kataklysm, winner of Heavy Metal Album of the Year, on stage at the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on April 2, 2016.  

At the top of the gala, Allan Reid, president/CEO of The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), had the nominees in the room all stand up to get recognition, an annual tradition, he called it. There were 178 in total this year, not all of them in attendance, 88 of which were first-time nominees.

“Now, just because you’re a first-time nominee, it doesn’t mean that you’re under 20 -- like Scott Helman,” he said. “Just look at our jazz album of the year solo nominees -- Calgary’s own Al Muirhead at 80 years old is nominated along with Jerry Granelli at 74 years old, who, in case you don’t know, played on the best Christmas album ever, Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas. Tonight, you’re going to see them perform with the legendary Tommy Banks, who has his second nomination after 37 years, in our Jazz Allstars performance.”

Of the performances -- which also included nominees Afiara Quartet & Skratch Bastid; Fortunate Ones; SonReal and Young Empires -- Reid also pointed out that the 2016 Juno Gala Dinner & Awards is officially Licensed To Play by performing rights organization SOCAN (the evening’s sponsor). “The first major award show and festival in the world to be completely licensed for music,” he said.

The dinner was catered by celebrity chef Roger Mooking, whose former band Bass Is Base Reid had signed in the early ’90s to a record deal and had won a Juno in 1994. “I ran into him at Pearson Airport a year ago [where Mooking has a restaurant] and he said jokingly, ‘Hey man, when am I going to be your chef at the Junos?” Reid recounted. Mooking joked onstage that Reid A&R-ed the menu.

Additional highlights from the night included special award presentations by Tom Cochrane to bestow Arcade Fire with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award and Burton Cummings (who will be inducted into Canadian Hall of Fame) paid tribute to radio pioneer Rosalie Trombley who received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award. She was known as “the girl with the golden ear” and was immortalized in Bob Seger’s song “Rosalie.”

Trombley’s award was picked up by her son, Tim Trombley, a former A&R exec who inherited his mom’s ability to detect a hit song. “She used her golden ears and instincts to identify, take chances and lead the way for an array of then unproven artists on top 40 radio, such as The Guess Who, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Elton John, BTO, Paul Anka, Kiss and Gordon Lightfoot, amongst so many notable others,” he said.

Arcade Fire has raised more than $4 million CAD ($3.7M USD) to help the people of Haiti through various avenues, such as Partners in Health, KANPE and Plus One. The band donates $1 from every concert ticket to the cause, a small but very effective gesture.

The band’s Régine Chassagne was on hand to pick up the humanitarian award and gave a moving 10-minute speech about the Arcade Fire’s charity work, with considerable praise to Partners in Health, and ended with a call to action.

“I want to put out a special shout out to other bands, like Half Moon Run, Johnny Reid, Arkells, Metric and many more, that have joined Plus One and are also donating $1 per ticket and are engaging their fans. The thing is you don’t have to wait to have success to do something. Find a value, a cause that is so true to you that you could stick to it forever. I challenge you to go speak to Marika [Shaw], who runs Plus One, about what you could do. And the question you should ask yourself is not ‘Why would I?’ But more ‘Why wouldn’t I?’

On Sunday night, six more awards will be given out on the televised broadcast of The 2016 Juno Awards live from The Scotiabank Saddledome. In addition to performances by The Weeknd, Mendes and Cara, Bryan Adams will hit the stage, Coleman Hell, Dean Brody, Whitehorse and more.

For a complete list of winners, including classical, jazz, roots and other categories, click here.