On April 8, Canada Post issued a stamp to mark the 50th anniversary of the JUNO Awards, Canada’s biggest night in music.
Canadians have shared in the excitement of their country’s premier music event ever since the JUNO Awards were first broadcast on national radio in 1973. Although the buzz around the JUNOS has grown incrementally since they made their television debut in 1975 – with crooner Paul Anka as host – the origins of the coveted awards are remarkably humble.
In 1964, Toronto-based RPM – a new weekly magazine created by Walt Grealis and Stan Klees – published the results of what would become an annual poll of its subscribers’ favourite Canadian artists and music-industry figures.
Initially little more than a mimeographed pamphlet, the publication was born of the need to develop a distinct identity for the Canadian music industry and distinguish it as more than just an extension of the one south of the border. Until it ceased publication in 2000, RPM grew into what some industry insiders called the single most influential Canadian music periodical ever published.
On February 23, 1970, a ceremony to present the RPM Gold Leaf Awards – organized to boost broader interest in Canadian music – was held at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Hall, with metronome-shaped statuettes going to Andy Kim, The Guess Who, Gordon Lightfoot and Ginette Reno.
That year, there were 14 award categories – a modest number compared with the more than 40 categories that have since emerged. The following year, the event was renamed the JUNO Awards in tribute to Pierre Juneau, then-chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and a fierce champion of Canadian content regulations.
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) was formed in 1975 and became the umbrella not-for-profit organization overseeing the JUNO Awards, MusiCounts (Canada’s music education charity) and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The 1978 edition of the ceremonies marked the first inductions to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame – to master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and big-band legend Guy Lombardo. To date, 57 Canadian bands and performers have had this honour bestowed on them.
Over the years, the JUNOS has evolved alongside the Canadian music scene, celebrating a wide swath of genres including rock, pop, jazz, R&B, country and more, as well as categories dedicated to Francophone and Indigenous artists. Winners are a testament to this country’s incredibly diverse range of homegrown talent, from Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte-Marie and the Weeknd, to the Tragically Hip, Alessia Cara and Les Louanges, to name but a few.
This year, the curtain will rise on the 50th anniversary edition of the annual JUNO Awards in Toronto, Ontario, showcasing both established and emerging Canadian recording artists and celebrating Canada’s renowned music industry.
Stamp showcasing new award statuette celebrates JUNO Awards 50th anniversaryAvailable now