Canada’s JUNO Awards are practically around the corner, March 29. Looking at the musicians nominated, here are my top picks from some of the 39 categories.
k.d. lang- Artist of the Year: This country to pop singer, writer, and producer has come a long way from being a backup singer for Roy Orbison. Whether crooning about Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray or twanging during Big Boned Gal, she’ll leave listeners constantly craving for more. I hope she comes around again soon, I’d like to see her a third time.
Celine Dion- Juno Fan Choice: Although way over-played in Quebec, I still enjoy her older albums. Her French album, D’Eux, from ’95 is still my favourite.
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Running for the Drum– Aboriginal Album: A First Nations singer-song writer and visual artist I’ve recently come to know about. Thanks to a friend, I know more than just her “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”, which I’ve listened to numerous times through the Indigo Girls. Her works have also been heard through the voices of Janis Joplin, Barbra Streisand, and even Elvis, among many others. She is also an activist, pacifist, and educator in and out of the classroom.
Oliver Jones, Second Time Around– Traditional Jazz Album: Although only vaguely familiar with this jazz pianist and composer, I really enjoy what I’ve heard. My introduction to him was a couple years ago when his performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival was broadcast live.
James Ehnes, Homage– Classical Album (Solo or Chamber Ensemble): This violinist has made quite the name for himself. It must be nice playing 18th century violins on loan from private collections. He’s incredible to see live and due to his busy world-wide tour schedule I don’t know when I’ll get to see him next.
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal & Kent Nagano, Beethoven- Ideals of the French Revolution– Classical Album (Large Ensemble): With or without James Ehnes as a guest, this orchestra makes for a fantastic evening. Because he tends to sell out shows I have yet to see the OSM’s music director conduct, though I hear Nagano has a pretty quiet presence. I don’t get to hear live classical nearly enough.
…And some sound samples…
k.d. lang’s hauntingly beautiful “Barefoot”
Celine Dion upbeat “Regarde Moi”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s powerful “Universal Soldier”
Oliver Jones at the Montreal Jazz Festival
James Ehnes explains Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D
OSM & Kent Nagano
k.d. lang’s classic, “Constant Craving”