Arts & Culture

Listen to Ottawa: That’s the sound of music

Nothing brings Canadians together like music. And during 2017, Ottawa is lighting the biggest musical bonfire in the country.

For starters the city will play host next year to the Juno Awards, the nation’s loudest celebration of musical talent. Not just a celebration for Canada’s own musicians, singers, songwriters and serious music fans, some of the biggest stars in the music world will appear at the 150 edition of the Junos taking place on April 2.

Those who think the Junos are simply a star-studded TV show are in for a serious surprise. Starting on March 27, Juno Week will see Ottawa venues ranging from the Canadian Tire Centre to offbeat clubs and bars filled with legendary artists, emerging artists and assorted superstars—and fans who like to keep their ears to the ground.

“One of the great things about the Junos is that it’s one of the few times in our industry that artists all get a chance to be together,” says Allan Reid, president and CEO of CARAS, which produces the Junos. “Often artists are on the road touring, so it’s fantastic when you can bring everybody together under one roof to celebrate. New friendships form. Really neat things happen.” At the Junos after-party in Calgary this year, for example, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew joined Tom Cochrane on stage for a rousing rendition of Boy Inside the Man. Reid predicts the Ottawa Junos will provide even more star power, with intriguing collaborations among musicians at formal events like the Songwriters’ Circle, and informally at bars, clubs and parties. The Juno Cup, a celebrity fundraising hockey game in support of the music education charity MusiCounts, welcomes NHL greats to the spotlight.

Juno Week in Ottawa fits perfectly with a celebration of Canada’s 150-year history. From Paul Anka, a legendary crooner who was born in Ottawa, to red-hot contemporary acts like The Weeknd and Justin Bieber, musicians have played an integral role in Canada’s cultural story. “Our music industry has always punched well above its weight,” says Reid. “Now is probably the most exciting time in Canadian music that I’ve witnessed being in this business for close to 30 years. Back in the 1990s, when you had Alanis, Shania, Celine and Sarah McLachlan, that was an incredible time. But when you see the global success of The Weeknd, Drake and Beiber, and see artists like Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes breaking out, it’s pretty amazing.”

Though the Junos get the party started, music will echo through the city all year long for Canada’s anniversary celebration.

In the summer, a new two-day festival, called YOWttawa, will showcase music in a variety of genres, including some of the world’s top contemporary music acts. Taking place in an as-yet-undisclosed venue, YOWttawa stages will feature Aboriginal and Canadian acts, as well as international talent from the four nations who were among Europe’s first arrivals here: France, England, Scotland and Ireland.

Also for music fans during 2017:


This is sponsored content. For more details on Ottawa’s 150th birthday celebrations, please go to Ottawa 2017.