Submitted by Sandy Graham
The Weeknd scored four awards at the 2023 Juno Opening Night Awards, which was livestreamed from the Edmonton Convention Centre on Saturday (March 11). The Canadian superstar took artist of the year for a record fourth time; songwriter of the year for a record fourth time; single of the year for a record-tying third time for “Sacrifice”; and pop album of the year for the first time for Dawn FM.
This brings The Weeknd’s total of Juno Awards to 21, which puts him in a tie with Bryan Adams for second place on the all-time Juno leaderboard. Anne Murray continues to lead all artists with 25 Junos.
The Weeknd is nominated for two more awards on the main Juno Awards telecast on Monday (March 13) — TikTok fan choice and album of the year. The Opening Night Awards is analogous to the Grammys’ Premiere Ceremony, where the bulk of each year’s Grammys are presented. But the event was less well-attended than the Grammy Premiere Ceremony usually is, perhaps in part because it was two days before the main telecast rather than just several hours before, as the Grammy Premiere Ceremony is.
Harry Styles’ Harry’s House took the Juno Award for international album of the year. The blockbuster album has swept awards around the globe, including the Brit Award for British album of the year and the Grammy for album of the year.
Floria Sigismond, who directed the Sam Smith/KimPetras video for “Unholy,” won music video of the year. The award was presented by Lyor Cohen, global head of music for YouTube.
Serban Ghenea, whose credits included the aforementioned “Unholy” and Lil Nas X’s That’s What I Want,” was named recording engineer for the second time in three years.
Akeel Henry, whose credits include Giveon’s “For Tonight” and John Legend’s “Splash,” took the Jack Richardson producer of the year award.
The Arkells won group of the year for a record sixth time. They had been tied with Blue Rodeo with five wins each. (Oddly, neither of these groups has made much of a splash in the U.S.)
A total of 41 awards were presented at the Opening Night Awards. Sixteen went to first-time winners.
The event also recognized this year’s special award recipients including the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award (country music manager and promoter Ron Sakamoto) and The MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award (Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew).
The livestream was ably co-hosted by Andrew Phung and Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe. Alberta pop singer Devon Cole, R&B sensation Dylan Sinclair, post-classical piano icon Jean- Michel Blais, sister trio The Bearhead Sisters performed. Corb Lund with The Sadies and Shannon Johnson from The McDades shared the stage for a collaborative performance of Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds” during the In Memoriam segment. Tyson was among the Canadian talent who died in the past year, along with Ronnie Hawkins, Susan Jacks, Kerry Chater, Shirley Eikhard and more,
Winners at the 2023 Juno Opening Night Awards:
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Avril Lavigne, Warner
Lauren Spencer-Smith, Island/Republic*Universal
Michael Bublé, Warner
Shawn Mendes, Island*Universal
WINNER: The Weeknd, XO*Universal
GROUP OF THE YEAR
Arcade Fire, Columbia*Sony
Billy Talent, Warner
Metric, Thirty Tigers
The Reklaws, Starseed*Independent
WINNER: Arkells, Arkells Music*Universal
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“Bite Me,” Avril Lavigne, Warner
“Flowers Need Rain,” Preston Pablo and Banx & Ranx, 31 East*Universal
“When You’re Gone,” Shawn Mendes, Island*Universal
“she’s all i wanna be,” Tate McRae, RCA*Sony
WINNER: “Sacrifice,” The Weeknd, XO*Universal
Music video of the year
“Fraud,” Emma Higgins, director; Jessie Reyez, Island*Universal
“Have Mercy,” Karena Evans, director; Chlöe, Parkwood*Sony
“Different Than Before,” Mayumi Yoshida, director; Amanda Sum, Independent
“Remember Me for Me,” Sterling Larose, director; SonReal and Lily Moore, Black Box*Fontana North/Warner
WINNER: “Unholy,” Floria Sigismondi director; Sam Smith and Kim Petras, Capitol*Universal
INTERNATIONAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Ed Sheeran, Warner
Montero, Lil Nas X, Columbia*Sony
Midnights, Taylor Swift, Republic*Universal
Red (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift*Universal
Breakthrough group of the year
Harm & Ease, Cosmo Cat*Independent
Rare Americans, EMPIRE/Crooked City*AMPED
Tommy Lefroy, Independent*AWAL
Wild Rivers, Nettwerk*Amped
WINNER: Harry’s House, Harry Styles, Columbia*Sony
WINNER: Banx & Ranx, Universal
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Faouzia, publisher: Faouzia Music/Kobalt Music Publishing
Tate McRae, publisher: T8 Entertainment Inc/Sony Music Publishing
Tenille Townes, publisher: Year of the Dog
TOBi, publisher: Oluwatobi Ajibolade Publishing
WINNER: Abel Tesfaye, publisher: XO Music Publishing/Kobalt Music Publishing
Jack Richardson producer of the year
WINNER: Akeel Henry