The 2012 Juno Awards are set to take place in the Capital this year for the first time since 2003 – on April Fool’s Day, no less. But the millions this will bring to the local economy is no joke.
“It brings in more than $10 million [from] out-of-town visitors and members of CARAS [the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences]. It is a big thing for our region,” says Marie Lemay, CEO of the National Capital Commission and a member of the host committee for this year’s awards.
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is because we know that these kinds of events are not only good for the economy . . . but they’re also good to inspire the next generation of musicians and artists in our community. When you look back on . . . people like Paul Anka, Alanis Morissette, Bruce Cockburn and Angela Hewitt, we have a rich history of very talented musicians from the city of Ottawa.”
The last time the Junos were in town, it was a very different event. For one thing, the awards took place over the course of a weekend rather than the week-long celebration it is today.
The NCC, CARAS, the Ottawa City Council, the Province of Ontario and a number of other local and national organizations are combining their efforts to make this year’s Juno week in Ottawa a memorable event — in fact, they hope to make all of this year’s visitors feel like this city is their second home.
“The late Jean Pigott once said, ‘Ottawa should be considered every Canadian’s second home town, and we’re going to welcome Canadians from coast to coast, musicians from coast to coast, to come and celebrate,” says Lemay.
As Canada’s music industry has blossomed over the last several decades, so too has the range of musicians being recognized, showcased and honoured as part of the Juno Awards.
“Juno Week is a massive celebration of Canadian music. It’s an opportunity to see old favourites and discover new talent in ways you’ve never expected,” says Chris Topping, vice-president of events and special programming at CARAS. “It’s an event that’s representative of different genres of music and diverse types of people. It’s an inclusive event for everybody.”
While only a few queer artists have been nominated for Junos this year, including Toronto-based acts Austra and Diamond Rings, a number of local Ottawa artists will be in the spotlight during Juno Week, which runs March 26 to April 1. A full list of those acts will be announced soon.
A few important Juno highlights:
This year, CARAS gives a nod to Montreal pop-punk band Simple Plan, whose members are being honoured with the 2012 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for their ongoing work with teens through the Simple Plan Foundation. It addresses teen suicide, youth poverty, drug abuse, mental health issues and bullying, amongst other issues.
“We started this foundation about seven years ago – to attempt to make a little difference,” said Pierre Bouvier, Simple Plan’s lead singer, who was seen at the Juno Awards press conference wearing a No More Bullies bracelet from Majic 100’s anti-bullying campaign. “We’re blown away by the things we can accomplish when we put some hard work [into] it.”
This year, Blue Rodeo will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Feist will give a live performance as part of the awards night, and the proceedings will be hosted by none other than William Shatner. If his highly entertaining appearances on various talk shows in recent years have taught us anything, it’s that when Shatner’s near, hilarity ensues.
Keep your eye on Xtra for more Juno news.