Shawn Mendes the biggest winner as bulk of Juno Awards handed out Saturday
Arkells, Jeremy Dutcher, Loud Luxury take home trophies ahead of Sunday's big show
He wasn't actually in the room, but it was all about Shawn Mendes at the Junos gala Saturday night in London, Ont.
The pop star — nominated for the most awards this year — was also the night's biggest winner, picking up four prizes: artist, songwriter and pop album of the year, plus single of the year for In My Blood.
And he's still up for two more Sunday: fan choice and album.
His wins made for a predictable pattern on what gala host Ben Kowalewicz called "music's longest night." (The actual runtime was just over three hours.)
Thirty-eight prizes, the bulk of the Junos hardware, were handed out, given to a healthy mix of industry veterans like Michael Bublé (adult contemporary album) and Colin James (blues album) and newcomers like Oshawa, Ont.'s Dizzy (alternative album) and London's own Loud Luxury (dance recording).
The DJ duo, who now live in Los Angeles, met at Western University and will perform on Sunday's big show. The group's Joe Depace talked about being born at a hospital not far from the gala site.
"This is an extremely crazy full-circle moment for us," he told reporters.
"We wouldn't be able to do it if we didn't have such a beautiful and incredible scene [here] available to us. That's what pushed us forward," added Andrew Fedyk, the duo's other half.
Bublé made a surprise appearance to present David Foster with the humanitarian award for his foundation's charitable efforts. The two goofed around and laid on the love for each other, with Foster retelling reporters how the two met while Bublé was singing at the wedding of Ontario MPP Caroline Mulroney.
Foster seemed to be genuinely humbled by the honour.
"It's like a funeral when I'm alive."
'Our music is not niche'
In one of the evening's most passionate speeches, winner Jeremy Dutcher honoured his fellow Indigenous album nominees and scolded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He told music industry members gathered in the room they could do better when it comes to reconciliation.
"Our music is not niche, our music is saying something," he said.
Those thoughts were then cut-off by his own music. Dutcher was allowed to finish his speech an hour later after a chance run-in with Arkells, who won best rock album for Rally Cry.
As the band mounted the stage to accept the night's final prize, they brought along Dutcher, who capped off the evening.
"This is what holding space looks like," he told the band.
Frontman Max Kerman explained backstage how it happened. He was going to the washroom and ran into Dutcher, who told him what table he was sitting at.
"When our name was called, I found him and I just grabbed him. He was a little startled," he said. "He said something that we could only dream of relaying."
The night's other prominent winners included:
- Breakthrough group: The Washboard Union.
- Adult alternative album: Bahamas, Earthtones.
- Metal/hard music album: Voivod, The Wake.
- Rap recording: Tory Lanez, LoVE me NOw.
- Electronic album: Milk & Bone, Deception Bay.
- Producer of the year: Eric Ratz for Arkells' Rally Cry.
- Video of the year: Ali Eisner for Bahamas' No Depression.
The return of Corey Hart
The gala set the stage for the Sunday's Juno Awards, the week's marquee event at London's sold-out Budweiser Gardens.
With the bulk of the awards already handed out, Sunday's show largely consists of musical performances, including the return of Corey Hart, who has not performed on television in more than 20 years. He will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
It marks a monumental moment for the '80s heartthrob, who met his wife while presenting together at a previous Junos. She will be in the audience Sunday.
Host Sarah McLachlan, Dutcher, Arkells, Bahamas, Coeur de Pirate and The Reklaws will also perform, though Canada's most popular talent, such as Mendes, The Weeknd and Alessia Cara — all nominated multiple times this year — are not expected to attend. Mendes will perform via video from Europe, where he's on tour.
And then, there's the six remaining awards to hand out: group, album, breakthrough artist, R&B/soul recording, country album and fan choice.
The show will be broadcast live on CBC-TV, CBC Radio, CBC Gem and globally on cbc.ca/junos beginning at 8 p.m. ET.