Meet the 5 Searchlight alumni who are up for Juno Awards in 2020

From Northern Haze to the Dead South, these former contestants have found themselves nominated this year.

From Northern Haze to the Dead South, these former contestants have found themselves nominated this year

Northern Haze, a band from Igloolik, Nunavut, released the first-ever Inuktitut rock album recorded in North America. (Josh Qaumariaq )

When it comes to Canadian music, few things warm our hearts more than seeing former Searchlight participants continue to do well in their careers.

In 2020, several former Searchlight runners-up received Juno nominations in various categories. Below, we take a look.

Northern Haze

During Searchlight 2014, we were excited by all of the entries from Nunavut. None peaked our interest more than Northern Haze, a band from Igloolik, Nunavut, whose self-titled 1985 debut album was reportedly the first-ever Inuktitut rock album recorded in North America. After a few trips south to play Expo 86 and Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife, the band disappeared into obscurity for years. In 2017, the surviving members roared back with a new, critically acclaimed album. And now, almost 50 years after the band first formed in the early 1970s, Northern Haze is nominated for its first Juno Award for Indigenous artist or group of the year.

Nuela Charles

A young and aspiring soul singer from Edmonton emerged from Searchlight 2013 as one of the true stars of the competition. Since then, Nuela Charles has gone on to win several other awards and has been featured many times on CBC, including in her own First Play Live. 2020 marks the third year in a row that Charles has been nominated for adult contemporary album of the year.


In 2014, Montreal rapper Koriass soared past much of the competition to place in the Searchlight national top 10. No stranger to awards, Koriass is a veteran Canadian musician who first took the stage in 2008. He caught the attention of many in the industry when he won the Prix Écho SOCAN in 2012. Koriass is also a two-time winner of the Prix Félix for best hip-hop album, in both 2014 and 2016. In 2017, he received his first Juno nomination for francophone album of the year. This year, he returns to the Juno red carpet with his second francopone album of the year nomination.


This critically acclaimed, politically minded trip-hop/soul artist has had a few long runs in Searchlight. In 2014, IsKwé was crowned regional champion for Manitoba, and she went on to the national round. Since then, she has relocated to Hamilton, and continues to mine her Cree, Dene and Irish roots for inspiration in her modern sound. IsKwé has served as a judge for our Canadian Music Class Challenge, and she received her first Juno nomination in 2018. She's back this year, joining Charles in the category for adult contemporary album of the year.

Iskwé | Soldier | First Play Live

6 years ago
Duration 4:10
Featured VideoIskwé performs "Soldier" from the album The Fight Within.

The Dead South

This well-hatted traditional roots band out of Regina first came to our attention when it surged through the early rounds of Searchlight 2014. Ever since, the Dead South bandmates have become an international touring machine, known far and wide for their engaging live shows that feature choreographed moves. The Dead South received its first two Juno nominations of its career in 2018: breakthrough group of the year and traditional roots album of the year. This year, the band is once again up for traditional roots album of the year.

The Dead South | Could I Have This Dance | Junos 365 Sessions

4 years ago
Duration 3:10
Featured VideoThe Dead South covers "Could I Have This Dance" by Anne Murray for CBC Music's Junos 365 Sessions. The song won the Juno Award for single of the year in 1981.

The 2020 Juno Awards will be broadcast live across Canada on March 15 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBC-TV, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, and CBC Gem, and globally on If you'll be in Saskatoon and would like to attend the Juno Awards, you can find ticket information here