Manitoba

Silence to song: Jaylene Johnson's Juno nod comes after serious vocal cord injury

Not long ago, Manitoba’s Jaylene Johnson was ready to give up her musical career after surgery left her without a voice. Now, her solo album has been nominated for a Juno Award.

4 Manitobans have been nominated for Canada’s top music awards

Jaylene Johnson was nominated for contemporary Christian or gospel album of the year after struggling with a serious vocal cord injury. (Jaylene Johnson/website)

Not long ago, Manitoba's Jaylene Johnson was ready to give up her musical career after surgery left her without a voice. Now, her solo album has been nominated for a Juno Award.

The nominees for the annual Canadian music prizes were announced on Tuesday, including four Manitoba musicians. 

Johnson was nominated for contemporary Christian or gospel album of the year for her album Potter & Clay.

"This is very personal because first of all I never expected I'd be able to sing again, let alone make a record," Johnson said on CBC Radio's Up To Speed Tuesday. 

"The fact that it's being acknowledged in this way means a lot to me."

The Winnipeg musician has released several albums, but a head-on collision in late 2004 took her off the stage for a number of years. During that time she started co-writing songs and in 2011 she was nominated for Juno for writing with Eagle and Hawk. 

Her music career was once again put on hold in 2012 when she suffered a rare intubation injury during a routine surgical procedure.

"Even being a person of faith, I really thought, 'I guess this is it,'" she said.

"I was low, really low."

After more than a year without singing, a Toronto specialist was able to treat the scar left on her vocal cord.

"It was a big risk to sort of leap back in and make another album and write these songs. This is my most vulnerable set of songs ever. It's sort of my life on a record," she said. 

Johnson said she's in a category with some of her idols and friends, so it would be a great honour to win the award. But getting to the actual awards ceremony would be extra special because it falls on her birthday.

"If we can find a way to make it happen, we are going to do it," she said. 

'It's really overwhelming, it's incredible,' said William Prince of the two Juno nominations he received for his debut album. ( Mike Latschislaw)

She's not the only Manitoban with a Juno nod this year.

Steve Bell was also nominated in the Christian or gospel album category. Chantal Kreviazuk was nominated for adult contemporary album of the year. 

Peguis First Nation's William Prince received two Juno Award nominations for his debut album, Earthly Days — Indigenous recording of the year and contemporary roots album of the year.

"It's huge. It's always a nice validation but at the same time it feels more like a huge return to just my family and my friends and people that have stood by me," he said. 

Prince has been playing music since his childhood and the nominated album took 10 years to make. Since its release, he has been vigorously touring across the Prairies.

The nomination means that the time away from his family and loved ones has some payoff, Prince said. 

"This is exactly what I was hoping to show them I was working towards," he said.  

"I'm just kind of accepting it still."