Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A videographer looks through a camera during the 2020 Juno Award nominee press conference in Toronto, on Jan. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Band members have had a hard time getting together, COVID-19 outbreaks have stalled filming and Ontario’s third wave of the pandemic has postponed the big show twice.

But “come hell or high water” the 50th annual Juno Awards will air Sunday on CBC-TV and its digital platforms, say organizers, who hope the largely pre-recorded broadcast will serve as a beacon of hope for a Canadian music industry decimated by pandemic shutdowns.

“Nothing is going to postpone it one more time,” says John Brunton, chairman and chief executive officer at Insight Productions, the longtime producer of the nationwide show.

Story continues below advertisement

Juno Awards celebrate 50 years, but Cancon’s own silver anniversary is the important one

Insight has been working with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the CBC to shoot performances in piecemeal fashion under ever-changing pandemic protocols.

“Everything is coming in very much up to the wire, so it’s actually more terrifying than live because at least live, everybody’s there,” says Lindsay Cox, senior vice-president at Insight.

“Everyone is working as close to the air date as possible.”

The two-hour event was originally supposed to be held with an audience at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena in March. But a spike in case counts and Ontario’s lockdown measures scuttled those plans, forcing organizers to reimagine it, postpone to May and then push again to June.

At one point Insight considered doing some kind of live show at the outdoor Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Cox says, but a risk assessment determined it was safer to shoot in different-sized locations on multiple days rather than everything happening on one day.

Still, COVID-19 outbreaks created challenges while filming segments for music’s biggest night: the crew on a Calgary shoot had to be completely changed when some workers tested positive for the virus, while an outbreak in Iqaluit stalled production for two weeks.

Producers also shot clips in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Newfoundland and Labrador and Los Angeles.

Story continues below advertisement

Uniting band members has been like herding cats, with travel and safety restrictions keeping artists separated and spread out all over Canada and the United States.

“Many people said to us, ‘Thank you for soldiering on and doing this,’” says CARAS president and CEO Allan Reid.

“Canadian resilience has really come through,” adds Cox. “Everyone’s like, ‘Let’s find another way to do it. What do we need to do? How can I help?’”

Performers will include Justin Bieber, Jann Arden and the Tragically Hip paired with singer-songwriter Feist.

The Hip will also receive the 2021 Humanitarian Award, presented by rock greats Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, and Anne Murray will induct Arden into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

There will also be a tribute to the 30th anniversary of the Juno Rap Recording of the Year category from Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Maestro Fresh Wes, NAV, Haviah Mighty and Michie Mee.

Story continues below advertisement

Brunton says the situation has created more collaboration than they’ve ever seen with many in the industry grateful to perform in some capacity.

“Everything is about making the very best product we can in really unusual circumstances — and with no ego,” says Brunton.

“I think that’s the true spirit of the show this year.”

Brunton and Cox have produced a few broadcasts during the pandemic, including the multi-network benefit “Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble,” and say they know to “zig and zag” amid ever-changing restrictions.

Their planned production for last year’s in-person Junos in Saskatoon was scrapped at the last minute when a pandemic was declared in March, forcing a virtual show last June.

Reid wondered if public health measures would discourage artists from releasing new music because they can’t tour, thereby also offering a dearth of 2021 Juno submissions.

Story continues below advertisement

“And what ended up happening was the exact opposite,” he says. “Artists started creating more and releasing more, and we ended up seeing the most amount of submissions in our history, which shocked us.”

The Weeknd has a leading six nominations, followed by Bieber, JP Saxe and Jessie Reyez with five.

Insight says they’re focusing on “unique venues” for this year’s telecast, including Toronto’s Massey Hall, Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom and Calgary’s Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, where Arden will perform.

The broadcast will also showcase various other clubs around Toronto and pay homage to the city that was originally supposed to host the bash.

“We’ve embraced what’s happening with the live music scene — or not happening, actually — and doing a bit of a tribute to them with the expectation that we’re all back in the fall and all those clubs will be back up again,” says Cox, adding the show will also “have some live elements.”

Adds Brunton: “Without a doubt, this will be the craziest production of the Junos from a behind-the-scenes, ‘Oh-my-god-what’s-next?’ (perspective).”

Story continues below advertisement

The 2021 Juno Awards will be broadcast June 6 on CBC starting at 8 p.m. EST

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies