The 2017 Juno Awards

I’m not a big fan of music awards. Inevitably the wrong artist or record wins, at least in my opinion.

I even found that to be true when I was on a panel judging a national music award that shall remain nameless. I was the only judge from outside a certain geographic region – and the winners all turned out to be from that region. Most of those I hadn’t voted for. Once I voiced the opinion that the results seemed a bit strange, I was never invited to judge again.

The Juno Awards are being handed out in Ottawa this weekend, Canada’s most prestigious music award. I’m not going to the show because I am a music fan.

Awards shows are meant to be a spectacle. They showcase one song at a time. I have no desire to hear just one song from an artist I like, I want a whole concert. And acceptance speeches usually bore me. There’s only so much you can say in the allotted time and most of it isn’t interesting. I suppose, given that I work in the music industry, that I could go to some of the industry events, some backstage stuff, but as an introvert even that isn’t appealing. I got invited to a special pre-Juno even on Parliament Hill, but I think I will pass on that.  I haven’t even watched the telecast in years, because the category I am most interested in, Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year, doesn’t make the TV broadcast. Not considered popular enough.

The Christian/Gospel category is flawed anyway. The music is great, but the possibilities cross too many genres. This year we have two singer/songwriters, a bluegrass band, a soul singer and a hip hop artist competing against each other. I appreciate the fact that there is a Christian category when for years there wasn’t, but it doesn’t seem fair to the musicians. At least the Christian jazz pianist wasn’t pigeonholed – he got nominated in the jazz category.

For me this is usually a problematic category anyway. Since I work in the Christian music industry I usually know most of not all of the nominees. I don’t like to cheer for one friend to win over another; somehow that doesn’t seem right.

I was fortunate last Saturday though to be able to take in performances by two of this year’s nominees, Steve Bell and Jaylene Johnson. I’ve been friends with Steve for about 20 years (though we usually only see each other once a year when he comes to town for a show) and have been listening to his records for almost 30.  My admiration for his talent is well known, and he’s nominated for a Juno this year for his latest record, Where The Good Way Lies.

Jaylene has only been recording for about 15 years and I haven’t known her as long. Last year she sent me an advance copy of her latest record, Potter & Clay, and I played it over and over. It is just that good. It too is nominated for a Juno. You see my conundrum.

So on Saturday night after the show I told Steve I was going to have to cheer for Jaylene to win. He didn’t mind. He’s cheering for her too.

To whet your appetite, here are a couple of songs from last Saturday’s show, first Jaylene, then Steve.


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