Charlotte Cardin, Talk, the Beaches among top Juno winners at Halifax bash

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Published Sunday, March 24, 2024 11:13PM EDT

Last Updated Sunday, March 24, 2024 11:14PM EDT

Nelly Furtado flew through this year’s Juno Awards with gusto as Charlotte Cardin, Talk and the Beaches landed wins during an evening full of surprises and breakthroughs.

One of them was a Juno picked up by Karan Aujla who sailed to a fan choice win Sunday on the growing popularity of Punjabi-Canadian music.

“This is definitely a first one, but not the last one,” the singer proclaimed while clutching the prize voted on by viewers.

“Sometimes I just can’t believe I’m the same kid that lost his parents when he was in India, made my way out to Canada, this beautiful country and today I’m here.”

“If you are dreaming, make sure you dream big.”

Another big surprise of the night came when Anne Murray walked onto the stage to give viewers a hearty East Coast welcome to kick off the show.

The Springhill, N.S.-born singer, who also holds a record 25 Juno wins, was met with a rousing cheer from the crowd inside Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre.

“Seeing that I’m a Nova Scotian who lives just up the street, the producers thought I’d be just the person to welcome you to Halifax,” Murray said with a smirk on Sunday’s CBC broadcast.

“So here I am. And welcome to Halifax.”

Murray then presented the first award of the evening, giving Toronto band the Beaches the group of the year prize.

It was the second win for the female four-piece act, after they picked up rock album of the year at a Saturday pre-telecast ceremony. They excitedly embraced and encouraged other young women to start bands with their friends.

Other winners included Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin whose “99 Nights” scored album of the year. It was her second win for the record after she landed pop album of the year during the pre-telecast.

Ottawa-raised singer Talk won breakthrough artist for his incredible rise on the back of the single “Run Away to Mars.”

Backstage, some musicians waded into several political conversations of the moment.

Musician Jeremy Dutcher was dressed head-to-toe in Indigenous designers while sporting a decorative necklace emblazoned with “Cease Fire Now,” in recognition of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“I thought we might not need it by now,” he explained of the message while clutching it in his hands.

Pop sisters Tegan and Sara, who received the humanitarian award for their work with LGBTQ+ youth, spoke of the recent “anti-transgender legislation” introduced in Alberta and New Brunswick.

Tegan Quin described it as a “movement against trans youth and the Conservative government putting their nose where it doesn’t belong”

“We shouldn’t be complacent,” she said.

“We should step up…. I also think we have a voice to remind our government we should be focused on more important things like climate change, the fentanyl crisis, the housing crisis.”

Allison Russell suggested there is hope in these dark times and that musicians are part of the solution.

“There’s only one tactic of all fascism, of all bigotry … and it’s divide and conquer,” she said.

“Hope is a practice and it requires community.”

The CBC telecast included an in memoriam tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, Robbie Robertson and Karl Tremblay, the lead singer of Quebec’s Les Cowboys Fringants, featuring a group of contemporary Canadian music favourites.

Russell and Aysanabee were joined by pianist Alexandra Stréliski in a performance that expanded to include several more musicians, including Logan Staats, Shawnee Kish, Julian Taylor and William Prince.

“We love you Robbie, we love you Gordon,” Russell said in closing.

Other Canadian talent picked up multiple awards at a non-televised awards gala on Saturday. Rapper Tobi, alternative singer Aysanabee and pop star Tate McRae each won two awards for their work.

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