Junos 2020: Alessia Cara to host, perform as she leads nominations

The latest contenders for the Juno Awards, Canada's most prominent music honours, were unveiled in Toronto today, showcasing a roster dominated by rising young talent and first-time nominees, along with a few members of Canadian music royalty.

Awards set for March 15 at Saskatoon's SaskTel Centre

'When you come back home, you are supported,' says the pop singer-songwriter, named host and top nominee for the 2020 Juno Awards. 4:46

Singer-songwriter Alessia Cara has been in the awards spotlight before, but will take centre stage this year as host, performer and top nominee at the 49th annual Juno Awards show in Saskatoon. 

The Brampton, Ont.-born Cara's six nominations for her single Out of Love and album The Pains of Growing put her at the front of a roster dominated by rising young talent and first-time nominees, along with a few members of Canadian music royalty.

Organizers announced Tuesday that 23-year-old Cara — who won best new artist at the 2018 Grammys and breakthrough artist of the year at the Junos in 2016 — would host this year's show. She's the youngest woman ever to do so. 

As she vies for awards in the fan choice category, along with single, album, artist, songwriter and pop album of the year, she'll be competing against other top nominees like rapper Tory Lanez, pop star Shawn Mendes, and 19-time Juno-winning singer Bryan Adams.

Tory Lanez scored five nominations, including for Juno fan choice, artist of the year, rap recording and a pair of nods in the R&B/soul category. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Lanez, the 27-year-old rapper who also hails from Brampton, follows close behind Cara with five nominations. Lanez released his most recent album, Chixtape 5, in November. 

In addition to nods for Juno fan choice, artist of the year and rap recording of the year for his song Freaky, he received two nominations for R&B/soul recording of the year; both Chixtape 5 and the single Feel It Too — featuring Grammy-nominated Jessie Reyez and songwriter Tainy — are in contention.

WATCH | Junos see generation shift with first-time nominees:

The group of first-time Juno nominees shows a shift for the awards, not only because of their age but also the modern ways the acts gained popularity. 1:48

Mendes nabbed nominations for Juno fan choice and artist of the year, while his track Señorita was nominated as single of the year. That song, his duet with singer Camila Cabello, was also Spotify's most streamed song of 2019 with over one billion streams.

Adams's Shine a Light is competing for album of the year and adult contemporary album of the year. He is also up for artist of the year. The Junos named Adams best male artist in 2000, two years before organizers merged the separate male and female artist categories into one.

Bryan Adams picked up a trio of nominations, including album of the year and best adult contemporary album for Shine a Light. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Thanks for the Dance, Leonard Cohen's final studio album that was completed by his son Adam, earned the iconic Montrealer a posthumous nomination in the category of best adult alternative album.

Other than Lanez and Cara, no other musician or group earned more than three nominations, but it is the breadth of nominees this year that represents the lineup's biggest shift. 

A full 35 per cent of the acts nominated — 66 of 187 — are first-time nominees, while singer-songwriter bülow and DJ duo Loud Luxury cemented their places in Canadian music with three nominations after each received four — along with one win — at the 2019 Juno awards.

The Netherlands-based bülow is up for single, pop album and songwriter of the year for work on her album Crystalline.

Composed of London, Ont., musicians Andrew Fedyk and Joe De Pace, Loud Luxury received nominations for dance recording of the year for their song I'm Not Alright, along with nods for group of the year and the fan choice award.

Rising stars break out

First-time nominee Hunter Brothers will be among those representing Saskatchewan at the 2020 Junos, taking place in Saskatoon. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

Among the first-timers are country group Hunter Brothers — who are up for breakout artist and country album of the year for their State of Mind — and alternative rock band Foxwarren — nominated for alternative album of the year for their self-titled debut. They are among the musicians who will represent their home province of Saskatchewan at this year's Juno celebrations in Saskatoon. 

Other breakout stars showcase how the awards are not only getting younger, but how artists are joining the industry is changing as well. 

Rising pop singer Lennon Stella first rose to fame making viral YouTube videos with her younger sister Maisy in their hometown of Oshawa, Ont.., before the siblings were cast in the ABC/CMT music drama, Nashville.

Now, Lennon is nominated for breakthrough artist of the year, while her song La Di Da is being considered for single of the year.  

Alexandra Stréliski performs "Burnout Fugue" at CBC Music. 3:03

Quebec's Alexandra Stréliski, a neoclassical composer and pianist whose music was featured in the films Dallas Buyers Club and Demolition, is also up for breakthrough artist.

Her album INSCAPE is nominated for instrumental album of the year, as well as the more general category of album of the year. If she were to win the latter, it would be the first instrumental release to win since the category was renamed from "best selling album" in 1980.

Two others, rappers bbno$ of Vancouver and Toronto's Ali Gatie, owe much of their fame to social media.

Using guerrilla marketing tactics on platforms like TikTok, Craigslist and Tinder shot bbno$'s track Lalala to widespread fame, while Gatie's track It's You blew up on TikTok, significantly boosting his career.  

Alongside Cara, artists The Glorious Sons, Daniel Caesar,  Stella and Lanez are scheduled to perform. 

Calgary's Jann Arden, who has eight career Juno wins and 26 previous nominations, will also perform to mark her induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

The 2020 Juno Awards will be held at the SaskTel Centre on March 15 at 8 p.m. ET.


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