Let’s roll back the clock for a bit… back to 1970. It was the year I got married, and the year before I moved to Barrie. It was the year that RPM Magazine owner Walt Grealis and record label owner Stan Klees launched Canada’s Gold Leaf Awards to recognize the very best in Canadian music. Later, to honour Pierre Juneau, first head of the Canadian Radio-Television Commission, they became the Juno awards. The first awards location was St Lawrence Hall. The audience totalled 250 people. The winners received wooden, carved, metronome-like icons.
Guess who won? Best male and female vocalists: Andy Kim and Ginette Reno. Best group? Guess Who. Really. Best country male and female artists? Tommy Hunter and Dianne Leigh. Best country group? The Mercey Brothers. Best folk artist? Gordon Lightfoot. Wait, there’s more… Best produced single? Which Way You Goin’ Billy? by the Poppy Family. Best overall record company: RCA victor. Best company for Canadian content: Quality Records. Best promotion of Canadian artists: Capitol Records.
Canada’s fledgling music industry was beginning to sprout wings. Why? Because Pierre Juneau, the CRTC Chairman, enacted Canadian content regulations! And while the listeners and the viewers moaned, they didn’t moan for long. Slowly, surely, Canadian musicians gained their rightful place on our airwaves and stars were born!
From the 12 awards in 1970, the Junos have grown to Sunday night’s extravaganza, exploding graphics and admirable stage effects as 12,000 enthusiasts crammed into Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre to hear dozens of awards and Music Hall of Fame accolades. In fact, the Juno awards have become so big, with 39 awards, they occur all week in their host city. CBC moves in to do live broadcasts with music writers; awards are presented the night before the televised show. It’s really Canadian content at its best.
Barrie native recording artists ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta and their DiggingRoots Band performed at the early awards presentation. As I listen intently to their roots music on their website, diggingrootsmusic.com, I feel proud that we are so well represented in 2007. Best Aboriginal Recording this year went to Leela Gilday for Sedze, and Stephen Fearing, who performs regularly in Barrie with the Barrie Folk Society, took Best Roots and Traditional Album, solo with Yellowjacket. Just look out for ShoShona and Raven!
Now in its 37th year, the Juno’s let us all celebrate diverse, incredibly diverse music from both lifelong and new Canadians. And, there is now so much to choose from.
Back in 1970 and for year after year as our industry began to grow, Anne Murray graciously thanked the judges for deeming her the best female vocalist. Year after year.
Just for fun, let’s look at the country’s top musical talent in 1975, when the Junos were five years old. Top male and female vocalists: Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray; Most promising male and female vocalists? Gino Vannelli and Suzanne Stevens. Best group? Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Most promising group? Rush. Composer? Paul Anka (who was also the host that year). Country male and female vocalists? Stompin’ Tom Connors and Anne Murray. Country group? Carlton Showband. Folk singer? Gordon Lightfoot. Producer? Randy Bachman. Best selling album? Not Fragile by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Best graphics? Night Vision by Bruce Cockburn. Best selling international album? Band on the Run by Paul McCartney. Best single? Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. Best international single? The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace.
That’s a trip down memory lane, for sure!
Let’s look at some highlights from 1983, the year our youngest was born. Frankly, I was up to my eyeballs in Sharon Lois and Bram, Raffi and Bob Schneider in those days and at the same time publishing a magazine for teenagers, so Annie Lennox figured in there, too.
Male & female vocalists? Bryan Adams & Carole Pope. Most promoising male and female vocalists? Kim Mitchell & Lydia Taylor. Group? Loverboy. Most promising group? Payola$. Composer? Bob Rock and Paul Hyde for Eyes of a Stranger. Funny, but those two spoke about this very song on CBC Sunday afternoon. Country female? Anne, of course. Country male? Eddie Eastman. Recording engineer? Bob Rock. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee? Glenn Gould (posthumously). Album? Get Lucky by Loverboy. Best children’s album? Bob Schneider, When You Dream a Dream. (I think we’ve still got it!) Valdy’s Kids Records was nominated, too. We still have that one, for sure. Best selling single? Eyes of a Stranger by the Payola$. International single? Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.
Now, that song rumbled through our furnace pipes for months and months as our older kids got hooked on it!
So much, so much and what a journey through our country and its times.
As I watched the awards on Sunday night, I reflected back to the 80’s when I was on top of this stuff. I couldn’t help but think back to Pierre Juneau and his incredible wisdom in dictating that we would hear our talent on our airwaves and find our souls in the process.
Thanks, Mr. Juno!