Junos turn spotlight on banner year for Canadian music

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CALGARY – Canada’s stunning year of endurance on the pop charts will be celebrated at home this weekend as some of the country’s top performers descend on the Juno Awards.

A heavy slate of relative newcomers, including the Weeknd, Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, are set to take the stage in Calgary for Sunday’s telecast, which will honour rising musicians and chart-toppers alike.

“There’s nothing like being embraced from home,” says Cara, who is nominated for four Junos this year, including breakout artist and the fan choice award.

She’ll be joined by several other pop stars who helped take Canadian music to extraordinary heights on the Billboard charts in 2015. At one point in December, Canadian singers held seven of the Top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.

Not all of those big stars are expected to grace the Junos with their presence this year.

Both Justin Bieber and Drake — who have five nominations each — haven’t announced plans to attend, and it’s unlikely either one will make a surprise appearance.

Most of the 42 Juno awards will be handed out at a gala dinner on Saturday night, which will be streamed on the Juno website.

Only eight of the highest profile awards make the televised show on Sunday. The rest of the broadcast will be filled with tributes and live performances.

The Weeknd, who holds the most Juno nominations this year with six, is slated to sing his biggest hits. Mendes, who has four nominations, is also on the bill.

Sunday’s show will be co-hosted by Canadian singer Jann Arden and Olympic gold medallist Jon Montgomery.

The telecast will open with a performance from Cara, who burst onto the global scene last summer with her infectious R&B-fused pop hit “Here.”

Cara says she was shocked Juno organizers gave her the coveted opening slot.

“I didn’t expect to even be able to go, let alone be nominated and be performing,” she says.

“I’m really excited — nervous, but excited.”

Cara plans to stray from her usual stripped-back performance style for the big show.

“I’m going to be doing some cool things that I haven’t really done on stage before, like incorporating different scenes and things like that,” she says.

“I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s a lot different than what I’m used to. I think the best moment to bring that out (is) at the Junos.”

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