By Jesse Robitaille
Canada Post is celebrating half a century of the Juno Awards, recognizing all Canadian musicians’ artistic and technical achievements, with a single-stamp issue on April 8.
The Permanent domestic-rate stamp pays tribute to Canada’s premier music event and its role in showcasing and supporting the country’s artists and creators over the past five decades. The commemorative stamp prominently features one of the three redesigned awards updated from a solid crystal tower to a new golden statuette to mark the 50th anniversary.
“We are thrilled to partner with Canada Post to celebrate the 50th annual Juno Awards,” said Allan Reid, president and CEO of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), which presents the yearly musical honours. “Collaborating with this historical institution allows us to celebrate Canada and our nation’s renowned musical talent. Our new golden statuette will stand proud on the limited-edition stamp, and we can’t wait for music lovers across the country to get their hands on one.”
This year, Juno Award winners will receive a gold version of the new statuette award, Special Award recipients will be presented with a silver version and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees will be given a gold-and-silver version. It’s the fifth redesign since 1970, when the first 45-centimetre award was made out of walnut wood and designed to resemble a metronome.
Paprika, a Montréal-based design and marketing firm, designed the stamp with illustrations by Toronto’s Amanda Arlotta. Toronto’s Colour Innovations printed 120,000 five-stamp booklets using five-colour lithography plus 7,000 official first-day covers (OFDC), each serviced with a Toronto cancellation. The stamp measures 25 millimetres by 49 millimetres while the OFDC is 190 millimetres by 112 millimetres.
50 YEARS OF THE JUNOS
Canada’s biggest night in music began as an annual poll of the country’s favourite musicians in a defunct trade publication, RPM, founded in 1964 by publisher Walt Grealis and record producer Stan Klees.
Initially known as the RPM Gold Leaf Awards, the poll ran from 1964-69 with the winners’ names published in RPM at the end of each year. In 1970, the Gold Leaf Awards were presented for the first time during a ceremony at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Hall, and later that year, RPM asked its readers to suggest a new name for the annual awards.
In 1971, the Juno Awards were launched in honour of Pierre Juneau, the first chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Juneau was also responsible for the CRTC’s implementation of Canadian content regulations in the early 1970s.
RPM readers continued to choose the Juno Award winners until 1975, when CARAS was created to administer the yearly ceremony. That year, the awards ceremony was broadcast for the first time – via the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) – “which allowed the event to achieve a higher profile,” according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
Three years later, in 1978, CARAS also launched the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, whose first inductees were Oscar Peterson and Guy Lombardo, who were featured on stamps in 2005 (Scott #2118) and 1999 (SC #1820c), respectively.
Peterson was the first living person other than a reigning monarch to grace a Canadian stamp. He died in 2007.
RPM’s final issue was dated Nov. 13, 2000.
Since its humble beginnings, the Junos have tried to keep pace with Canada’s evolving music scene by adding new categories to recognize the country’s increasing artistic diversity.
Over half a century, the Junos have recognized Canada’s immense musical talents – from rising stars to household names – including 25-time Juno winner Anne Murray, who has received the most Juno Awards to date. Organizers recently posted a list of the top 100 Juno Award winners.
Canada Post commemorated Murray on a 2007 stamp (SC #2221c) as part of the “Canadian Recording Artists” series, which also featured fellow Canadian music icons Gordon Lightfoot (SC #2221a), Joni Mitchell (SC #2221b) and Paul Anka (SC #2221d).
Lightfoot, Mitchell and Anka have also won multiple Juno Awards.
Other Juno Award winners celebrated on Canadian stamps include:
- Stompin’ Tom Connors (SC #2333c);
- Bryan Adams (SC #2333d);
- Ginette Reno (SC #2479);
- Bruce Cockburn (SC #2480);
- Robbie Robertson (SC #2481);
- Kate & Anna McGarrigle (SC #2482)
- the Tragically Hip (SC #2656);
- RUSH (SC #2657);
- Beau Dommage (SC #2658);
- the Guess Who (SC #2659);
- Shania Twain (SC #2768);
- Tommy Hunter (SC #2769); and
- k.d. Lang (SC #2770).
Originally scheduled for March, this year’s 50th anniversary Juno Awards ceremony is postponed until May 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards for the various categories will be presented from several musical venues across the country and broadcast nationwide via CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One and CBC Music – plus globally at cbcmusic.ca/junos – at 8 p.m. (ET). Juno Award-winning artist Alessia Cara, of Brampton, Ont., who was also the first Canadian to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, will host this year’s event.