Entertainment

Calgary pop sensation Kiesza picks up first 2 Junos

Kiesza's breakthrough year continued its breakneck pace Saturday, as the fleet-footed Calgary singer picked up her first two Juno Awards.

Sound of a Woman named record of the year, viral hit Hideaway top video

Kiesza's breakthrough year continued its breakneck pace Saturday, as the fleet-footed Calgary singer picked up her first two Juno Awards.

Kiesza, 26, won dance recording of the year for her debut album Sound of a Woman and video of the year for her mesmerizing viral smash Hideaway at a non-televised gala ceremony at the Hamilton Convention Centre.

Born Kiesa Ellestad, the dance composer and classically educated guitarist still holds two more nominations that will be contested during Sunday night's Junos broadcast — where only six more trophies will be handed out — but she wasn't reserving her enthusiasm Saturday.

"I came up with this song, I had no means to create a video, no money. I called my brother from Canada and said: 'Can you please film me while I illegally run down the street in Brooklyn with no permit?"' she said of the notorious one-take video, which has more than 200 million views on YouTube.

"Our whole budget was his plane ticket and somehow this video came of it," added Kiesza, clad in a reflective gold dress and heavy-looking earrings, her fiery hair piled atop her head, before proceeding with an exhaustive list of thank-yous, poking fun at herself at the end.

"Thank you to my dog and my hamster," she joked. "And thank you to the Junos."

Kiesza is set to perform during Sunday's telecast, and she wasn't the only first-time performer to take home some Juno hardware early.

  • Toronto's reggae-dusted pop outfit Magic! — leading nominees entering the weekend with five — won their first Juno for breakthrough group of the year.
  • Toronto alt-R&B paramour the Weeknd won his third career Juno (R&B/soul recording of the year) a night before his first Juno performance.
  • Local rock favourites Arkells won group of the year, their third Juno.

"I know it's that time of the hour that everyone's drunk as a rat right now so I'll make this brief," said Arkells' frontman Max Kerman. "Seriously, this category, everybody in this category does music better than we do in every single way.

"Let's party in Hamilton tonight!" he added.

Toronto folk-pop singer/songwriter Bahamas (real name: Afie Jurvanen) won his first two career Junos for his lushly immersive Bahamas is Afie, taking both adult alternative album of the year and songwriter of the year, beating out a field that included Katy Perry hired gun Henry (Cirkut) Walter and Magic!

Thank you to my dog and my hamster. And thank you to the Junos.- Kiesza

"This is a real honour," Jurvanen said. "I've been making these albums for a few years and it seems like nobody cared there for a while.

"I brought my mother the last two times we were nominated and we lost," he added. "I'm sorry, she's not here tonight. I'm sure she's streaming it on her — well, she's not doing that, actually. I'll call her after."

Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq also procured her first Juno for Aboriginal album of the year for Animism, which also won the Polaris Music Prize — though she lost alternative album of the year to Toronto quintet July Talk, also inaugural winners.

Other notable winners included:

  • Critically lauded Caribou (electronic album of the year).
  • Toronto electro-pop songwriter Lights (pop album of the year).
  • Alt-rock howler-turned-country crooner Dallas Smith, who won his first solo Juno 13 years after winning best new group as frontman for post-grunge sludge-slingers Default.

At the other end of the experience spectrum:

  • An absent Sarah McLachlan wrested her ninth career Juno for adult contemporary album of the year.
  • Veteran violinist James Ehnes took his 10th Juno in 18 years.
  • Exco Levi snatched a fourth straight win for reggae recording of the year.
  • Hirsute children's troubadour Fred Penner won his third out of 10 nominations (dating back to 1981).
"I'm really quite overwhelmed. I really thought Raffi was going to pull this out," said Penner, 68, before attesting to the influence of his 66-year-old peer. "Raffi, I do love you."
Kiesza, seen performing in Los Angeles in 2014, has brought home her first Juno award. (John Shearer/Invision/AP)

And the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award was presented to Toronto power-prog trio Rush for their long (and intentionally quiet) history of philanthropy.

Categories set to be determined during Sunday's telecast included album, single, artist, breakthrough artist and rock album of the year, in addition to the Juno Fan Choice Award.

Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Alanis Morissette, Deadmau5 and the Weeknd are expected to perform at the show, to be hosted by Hedley's Jacob Hoggard.

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