The most memorable moments at the 2022 Junos
From incredible showcases to the best award speeches, here are all the highlights
The Junos are back in full force this year. From Junofest showcases and exclusive parties to the award nights, the 2022 Junos welcomed back in-person events all week.
It was impossible to attend everything — particularly if you couldn't make it to Toronto — but we were there for you, catching all the best moments.
Scroll down for the highlights, and for more Junos coverage, head over to cbcmusic.ca/junos.
May 15: Juno Awards broadcast
When an actual superhero hosts an outdoor event, you just know the weather will cooperate, and it did: the 2022 Juno Awards took place under dry conditions at Budweiser Stage in Toronto. "This is some crazy energy, Toronto," host Simu Liu said to the crowd. "It's almost as if you've been cooped up for two years straight, or something."
Following a performance by Arkells, who went on to win the Juno for group of the year, Liu gave a monologue that leaned on Canadian clichés for laughs. "I'm not a curler or anything, but I know what it means to hurry hard," he said, adding, "whether you call it a cabin, a camp or a cottage, we spell Weeknd without the third 'e.'"
The end of Liu's monologue — a nod to the memorable Molson Canadian "I am Canadian" commercial — elicited roars from the crowd after Liu proudly stated that Canada is a place where "a woman always has the right to choose."
Liu then joined Regina's Tesher, providing backup vocals and even dancing on "Jalebi Baby." "That's how we celebrate Asian Heritage Month," Liu concluded. (Tesher later joked in the media room, when asked what it felt like to have a superhero onstage with him: "We brought Bollywood and Bhangra to the MCU.")
The award for rap album/EP of the year went to a woman for the first time. "Thank you for the love," said Haviah Mighty, accepting the award for Stock Exchange (and also her first Juno). "This one is for women in hip hop!"
She later took the stage to perform a medley of her singles "So So" and "Protest." The second song in her set goes deep into the history of anti-Black racism in Canada and elsewhere — a sobering moment in the night and a reminder of the recent white supremacist mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. "Y'all need to broaden your scope," she rapped in the song. "Picture you got darker skin and broaden your nose/ I be sick when I be thinking 'bout the trauma we know."
'Those rejections became my redirection'
Former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh introduced Deborah Cox's induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. "I'm back here to honour one of our heroes," he said. "I remember being in high school when I first heard her sing 'Nobody's Supposed to be Here' and it blew me away. And it inspired me to try and create paths for myself, to go places a kid like myself wasn't supposed to be."
Following a video tribute, Cox took to the stage. "Growing up as a young Black girl in Toronto, this vision seemed intangible," she reflected. "It wasn't easy to leave my home, but it was necessary. Otherwise, I'm not sure that I'd be standing here this evening. Those rejections became my redirection, and only added fuel to my fire." Later in the broadcast, she performed a medley of some of her most beloved songs.
Next, Charlotte Cardin gave a soulful and energizing performance of "Meaningless," winner of single of the year. Then Mustafa focused everyone's attention on his hair-raising rendition of "Stay Alive," for which he was joined by a chorus of friends for the powerful final refrain.
'I was enough before anybody knew my name'
Attired in a blue suit that would make Silk Sonic proud, Shawn Mendes accepted the Juno International Achievement Award with some inspirational words: "When I was younger, I used to think if I could just write one big hit song, people would like me, and then I would be enough. Then it was to be nominated for a Juno or Grammy, and people would take me seriously, and then, I would be enough. We're taught to believe that what we achieve is the same thing as what we are worth. But something that I know to be true now is that I was enough before anybody knew my name."
That paved the way for a set from Avril Lavigne, whose debut album, Let Go, turns 20 next month. She performed a medley of songs from that classic album, plus her latest single, "Bite Me," before returning to present the Fan Choice Award to Mendes.
Arcade Fire closed the evening with a stage full of children and subdued lighting to perform the band's new single, "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)."
May 14: Opening Night Awards
This being the first time that everyone could gather in three years to celebrate, the energy was high for the opening night awards, where more than 40 Junos were given out.
Charlotte Cardin won her first-ever Juno tonight — and the first award of the night — for pop album of the year. She was ecstatic, and it wouldn't be the only Juno of the night for the singer with the highest nominations this year. Cardin also won for single of the year for her song "Meaningless," beating out the Justin Bieber/Daniel Caesar/Giveon hit "Peaches" and the Weeknd's "Take my Breath," and she took home the award for artist of the year.
Kairo McLean won the Juno for reggae recording of the year, and at 13 years old that makes him both the youngest nominee and winner in the category. While we're sure that's a highlight for McLean, an additional highlight for us was his dapper outfit, and his short-but-sweet acceptance speech.
Backstage in the media room, McLean expanded on his feelings, telling everyone how excited he is to bring his Juno trophy to school. He also opened up about fellow nominee Kirk Diamond, who he calls "my best friend in the industry," and when asked what his life will look like in 10 to 20 years, he said, "Happily retired, probably with kids." McLean's parents also joined him in the media room, and the three shared a happy, tearful embrace as they told him how proud of him they were.
Denise Jones was posthumously given the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, and a beautiful tribute video contextualized just a bit of the influence that the Canadian promoter had as a champion of reggae music in this country. (Watch the video below at 1:23.) Jones' sons, Jeremy and Jesse Jones, accepted the award, likely not leaving a dry eye in the house.
Jeremy asked everyone in the room to tell their moms how much they're loved every day, not just Mother's Day: "Tomorrow's not promised, so please do it while you have the chance to do so."
And Jesse tapped into his mother's legacy: "While the name Denise Jones might not be familiar to some of you in this room here tonight, her name is very, very, very familiar to many in our world. Her devotion to championing our beloved Afro-Caribbean culture and the many examples of artistic and business excellence that exist within our community resulted in well-known achievements, like the creation of the Junos' reggae category.... But what equally amazed and inspired all of us, was the fact that none of these accolades or any others ever overshadowed her steadfast commitment to being our mom."
Backstage, alternative album of the year winner Half Moon Run reflected on this year's Songwriters' Circle, which took place earlier this week at Massey Hall. The band praised the event, noting it was nice to reunite with Toronto rockers Metric, whom they toured with 10 years ago. Singer Devon Portielje also mentioned Mustafa, an artist he had never heard of before that evening, but was blown away by his powerful music, adding, "He's a really wonderful person to speak to."
Toronto artist Savannah Ré won traditional R&B/soul recording of the year for the second year in a row. But because the Junos happened virtually last year, Ré's excitement is on another level this year, with her noting, "This is a totally different feeling." She didn't expect to win again, revealing in the media room: "I didn't write a speech. I was sitting there, eating chicken, ready to clap for the winner. I'm ready to get lit."
Caity Gyorgy won her first Juno Award this weekend, for vocal jazz album of the year, and during her acceptance speech she dropped a fun fact: when she graduated high school in 2016, she was voted the student most likely to win a Juno Award. Only six years after graduating is a pretty quick timeline to prove that true!
Afrobeat group Afrikana Soul Sister won the Juno for global music album of the year, and members Djely Tapa, Jean-François Lemieux and Fa Cissohko joyously ran to the stage.
"C'est ça, la diversité musicale," said Tapa. "C'est la diversité culturelle. C'est ça que chacun donne de sa culture. C'est ça qui fait le bonheur d'être au Canada."
Susan Aglukark was given the Humanitarian Award this year, on the 25th anniversary of her hit "O Siem," which helped her break records and make history (it was the first top-10 hit in Canada for an Inuk recording artist). She was recognized for her "long-standing dedication to improving the lives of children and youth in Northern Indigenous communities," primarily through her organization the Arctic Rose Project.
During her acceptance speech, Aglukark reminisced about her first years in the industry: "I am and will be forever grateful to my fellow artists, musicians and the entire Canadian music industry. I remember fondly the early years of my career, as much in awe as I was stunned. Happenstance, right place, right time, accidental artist. It was, and I was, truly all of this, in all those early years. Certainly and always overwhelmed, but also discovering place and belonging. This discovery allowed for a reconnection of self. Without this community, and access to it, I would not be here today."
In the media room, Aglukark was asked if she felt like an elder to the current crop of Indigenous talent coming up, to which she responded: "I'm honoured to be considered an elder, but I'm not there yet ... I want to be the next Buffy Sainte-Marie — I'm going to sing until I can't sing anymore."
Hill Kourkoutis became the first woman to win recording engineer of the year, and when it was announced that she was making her way into the media room, Serena Ryder (who was just wrapping up her Q&A) screamed. She ran back onstage and waited for Kourkoutis to show up, and when she entered the room she was introduced by Ryder: "Ladies and gentlemen, recording engineer of the year and my best friend, Hill Kourkoutis." The two hugged, and Kourkoutis described the surprise as "beautiful and kind of emotional."
In a one-on-one interview with CBC Music afterward, Kourkoutis said of her win: "It feels amazing and I just hope I am not the last. I'm really excited that this is going to open up a conversation about the amazing records being made by women and non-binary producers right now."
May 13: The Block showcase
Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe hosted The Block's showcase at the Baby G in Toronto, which got off to a bit of a late start but was packed and full of energy all show.
When Rexdale rapper Thelonious started what we thought was a cover of the 2002 Juno-nominated track "Money Part 1" from Jelleestone, and then Jelleestone himself hopped onstage to perform? Now that was a moment. (Find it at 22:15 in the video below.)
Hip-hop duo TRP.P closed the night with a killer set, and midway through, Truss, one-half of the duo (alongside Phoenix Pagliacci), sent out some much-deserved love to The Block: "We reppin' because y'all rep us, and we thank you so much."
They also gave us a world premiere of their upcoming song, "Doin' it for Me," not out until June 24. Check it out at 1:38 — it's a jam.
May 12: Indigenous artist showcase
Falen Johnson hosted Junofest's Indigenous artist showcase, and it was a beautiful time at Dine Alone Records' Clubhouse in Toronto. Fawn Wood, who's nominated for her first Juno Award for traditional Indigenous artist or group, gave a heartwarming set, and let us in on an unexpected influence: "One of the few VHS tapes I had growing up was Grease … and it's actually one of my favourite songs to sing," she said, before performing her own song "Hopelessly Devoted."
Adrian Sutherland, whom you may recognize from Midnight Shine, performed for only the second time in the last two years at the showcase. Fun fact: the showcase is also where he finally met and performed in-person with Colin Linden, who worked virtually on Sutherland's Juno-nominated album, for the first time. We definitely benefited from the talented meet-up.
May 11: Songwriters' Circle
Dubbed the "jewel of the Junos," the annual Juno Songwriters' Circle is one of the most anticipated events of Junofest, and this year did not disappoint. The evening, which was hosted by Talia Schlanger (who replaced Tom Power at the last minute due to illness) at the newly renovated Massey Hall, featured an incredible lineup of musicians including Allison Russell, Tobi, Metric and Charlotte Day Wilson.
Split into two rounds, the first group of artists opened up about the stories behind the songs they were performing, which included topics of trauma, mental wellness and safety. Russell, whose music is largely inspired by family, ancestry and healing from "an unbelievable amount of tragedy and loss," revealed that her song "Quasheba, Quasheba" is named after the matriarch of her family, as far back as it could be traced. She added: "I wept when I learned her name.... We all come from long lines of survivors, and that's why we're here."
Schlanger later noted that it was refreshing to not have artists discuss songs of love and romance, to which Tobi jokingly responded, "Maybe we're just not having good dating lives — we need help!"
Singer-songwriter Allison Russell told us how she was raised by white supremacists, and how this song came out of her discovery of her real family's history. Powerful stuff.<a href="https://twitter.com/CBCMusic?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCMusic</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/TheJUNOAwards?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheJUNOAwards</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/songwriterscircle?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#songwriterscircle</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JUNOS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#JUNOS</a> <a href="https://t.co/FgXlyDz7xm">pic.twitter.com/FgXlyDz7xm</a>—@JessicaNgCBC
The second half of the evening was a mix of veteran acts (Metric, the Weather Station) alongside newer artists (Mustafa, Charlotte Day Wilson). Metric's Jimmy Shaw opened up about the key to his band's longevity while Mustafa and Wilson focused on the personal journeys they take in their music. (Wilson notably got a loud round of applause when she talked about exploring her queerness in her music, telling the audience, "Shout out to the lesbians.")
Overall, the stories each artist told helped elevate their acoustic performances, but an even more heartwarming sight was just catching glimpses of the musicians listening to, and praising, each other onstage, from Tobi gleefully smiling during other people's songs to Mustafa hyping up Wilson's upcoming headlining gig at Massey Hall next month.
April 29: Frequencies showcase
Kicking off Junofest on April 29, dance took over the stage at the Frequencies showcase at Lula Lounge. The Toronto venue is known as a home for world music, making it the perfect place to hear artists perform everything from Afro-electro to jazz, cumbia to hip hop.
Djely Tapa of Afrikana Soul Sister was feeling the groove so intensely during a performance of "Tamanitanga" that she had an impassioned dance break onstage (at 1:06:05). Later in the evening, Moonshine took the stage and got the audience dancing along with the collective, after a mini choreography lesson (at 1:27:28) during "Tibo Tisipa."
Don't miss the 2022 Juno Awards, hosted by Simu Liu, live Sunday, May 15, at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m PT. Tune in on CBC-TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and CBC Listen, and stream globally on cbcmusic.ca/junos, CBC Music's Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.