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'Am I even deserving of all this stuff?': Alessia Cara on self-deprecation and hosting the 2020 Junos

The singer-songwriter, who is nominated for six different Juno awards, will take the stage at next month's ceremony as host.
The singer-songwriter, who is nominated for six different Juno awards, will take the stage at next month's ceremony as host. 16:14
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For singer-songwriter Alessia Cara, it's exciting enough to be named the host of the 2020 Juno Awards — but to be nominated for six awards on top of that is something she didn't predict.

"I just didn't expect to be nominated," she said in an interview with q's Tom Power. "Because I'm hosting, I just thought that was it. And then, like five minutes before the red carpet, I found out that I had six [nominations]."

It's the most nominations of any artist at this year's Junos, with Cara's single Out of Love and album The Pains of Growing earning her nominations for best artist, songwriter, album, single, pop album and the Juno Fan Choice Award.

The 23-year-old Brampton, Ont., native is going up against the likes of Canadian music icons Shawn Mendes, Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber and Michael Bublé.

"It's crazy. I really went into it without expecting anything," she said.

What's crazier for Cara is the fact that she will host the award show in the first place. 

"My gosh, I don't know why they let me do that," she joked. "I was just really confused ... and also very flattered that they would ask me or that they think that I could take that on."

"Hopefully I can bring something different to the show," she said.

More importantly, Cara wants to inspire any children who will be watching. She knows that many future Canadian musicians will be taking inspiration from their musical heroes and heroines, mainly because she was in their place not too long ago. 

"As a kid, I remember doing the same thing, watching young artists or young women either hosting or performing," she said. "So I hope that I can do that for another little Canadian girl watching, or boy, or whoever."

With six nominations, Cara has the most nominations out of any 2020 Juno attendant. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Self-deprecation

If victorious, the 2020 Junos won't be Cara's first taste of success on a major level. In 2016, she won the Juno for breakthrough artist of the year and the following year she won pop album of the year.

A year later, she became the first Canadian to win the Grammy for best new artist. 

But for every achievement, Cara has experienced a moment of self-deprecation.

"For me, for a while, I was like, 'Am I even deserving of all this stuff?'" she said. "My view of myself almost gets worse because the more accolades you receive, the more lonely you can feel and the more confused you can feel about all of it."

Cara says that some people think that being successful will trump all their feelings of self-doubt, but she notes that no amount of fame, money or accolades can erase your anxieties and negative feelings if you're not addressing those feelings directly. 

"If you don't deal with the stuff that's going on, no matter what paper you wrap it in, it's always going to come out eventually," she said. "So you've got to deal with that first."

Unsurprisingly, one way Cara tackled her own self-deprecation is through her music. Specifically, through her song Okay Okay

The song was released on Aug. 23, 2019, as the third single from her latest EP, This Summer. Described by Cara as "the most positive" song she's ever written, Okay Okay serves as a reminder to Cara that she is doing, well, okay.

"My own reflection of myself, it's sometimes very skewed to where I just think I'm not as cool as people see me or not as good as some of my fans tell me," she said. "So this song was like how I want to see myself.

"I want to be like, 'Look at all the stuff I've been through and look at where I am. Look at me, I'm doing okay, you know.'"

Songs have the power to take people to different places, Cara says. So, she wanted to be able to perform a song where she can experience feeling okay about herself. 

"It's nice to get out of that emotional side and just have a moment where I can remind myself you're doing okay," she said.

After much growth, Cara now feels ready to take on the new challenge of hosting the Junos.

"It's still very scary," she said. "But I think I'm in a place now where I'm confident enough to try at least, and to try something different."

Watch the 2020 Juno Awards broadcast on Sunday, March 15, at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, at 8 p.m. ET across the country, to be aired live on CBC-TV, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, the free CBC Gem streaming service in Canada and globally at cbcmusic.ca/junos. If you're in Saskatoon and would like to attend the Juno Awards, you can find ticket information here


Watch the full interview with Alessia Cara near the top of this page. Download our podcast or click the 'Listen' link to hear the conversation.

Written by Mouhamad Rachini. Produced by Cora Nijhawan.

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