The JUNO Awards celebrate some of Canada's biggest names in music.
This live and nationally broadcast awards ceremony is a chance for emerging artists to showcase their talents to the country. As a long-time sponsor of the JUNOS, TD recognizes the positive impact these awards, and the music they inspire, can have on society.
It is for this reason that TD is the powering sponsor of the TD JUNOS Submissions Access Program. This program, entering its third year, was created to help support Canadian independent artists from underrepresented communities amplify their work by covering the cost of nomination submission fees for approved applicants.
This year, 13 TD JUNOS Submissions Access Program participants became JUNO Award nominees and received $1,500 each from TD to help offset the cost of travelling to and attending the awards ceremony.
From among the list of talented artists supported by the TD JUNOS Submissions Access Program, meet three of this year's nominees.
At just 14 years old, Kairo McLean is already a veteran of the JUNO Awards. Last year, McLean became the youngest person to be nominated for Reggae Recording of the Year in 2022 for his debut EP Easy Now – and the youngest artist ever to win in that category.
This year, the Toronto-based reggae artist is nominated in the Reggae Recording of the Year 2023 category for his single “In The Streets,” as well as for the single “Reggae Party” in collaboration with JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter, Kirk Diamond.
"I feel like every time I meet a new artist, I'm a part of something special. I'm glad to just be a part of the reggae movement in Canada, especially as a second-generation Canadian," said McLean.
McLean grew up in a musical family in Toronto and draws reggae influences from his bass-playing father Garvin, who was born in Jamaica, and his mother Kim, who was born in Canada to parents from Jamaica and Trinidad.
Now that it's his second time attending the JUNOS as a nominee, McLean encourages other artists to submit their work for JUNOS recognition.
"Especially in the reggae community, there are a lot of reggae artists with very good songs who don't know about the JUNOS, and don’t know about the submission process. So everywhere I go, I always recommend trying to submit your songs to the JUNOS for a nomination – and people have taken the advice."
Check out McLean's song In The Streets on Spotify.
Editor's Note: McLean was honoured with a JUNO Award for the song "Reggae Party" in collaboration with Kirk Diamond at The 2023 JUNO Opening Night Awards that took place on March 11 in Edmonton.
Angelique Francis is a multi-instrumentalist, multi-genre singer-songwriter and composer who has played in music festivals all over the world and recently won two Canadian Blues Music Awards (Maple Blues Awards). Now, she can add first-time JUNO nominee to her extensive musical resume. The Ottawa-based Americana, blues, folk, R&B, soul and jazz artist is nominated in the Blues Album of the Year category for her latest album, Long River.
For Francis, it's also a family affair. Three of Francis's sisters contributed to the album – Kharincia Francis on saxophone and vocals, Kira Francis on trombone and vocals, and Kayla Francis on vocals – while her father, Kiran Francis, played drums, co-produced and engineered the album.
"I wanted this album to be a combination and consolidation of many different forms of roots and blues-influenced music," Francis said.
"As this was an album that we recorded over the pandemic, it was something we wanted to use to connect with people in the same level we would connect with people during live performances."
Thanks in part to the TD JUNOS Submissions Access Program, Francis has been able to focus more on developing the opportunities her nomination provides.
"I am living in a wonderful but timely place in my career, and this program is giving me the freedom to live in this moment and take full advantage of it," said Francis.
After meeting other independent artists from underrepresented communities, Francis has seen how some don’t believe they can be recognized for their craft because of who they are, or the resources available to them.
"As a Black woman, multi-genre, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and bandleader in traditional roots influenced music in Canada, I hope that my music and this nomination can inspire other people to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed," said Francis.
Check out Francis's song Out Your Mind on Spotify.
Editor's Note: Francis was honoured with a JUNO Award for the album "Long River" at The 2023 JUNO Opening Night Awards that took place on March 11 in Edmonton.
Adventure has always been a part of Francois Klark's life. Born in the Kavango region in Namibia and raised in South Africa, Klark moved to Canada in 2004 to attend Humber College and pursue his music career. Toronto has been Klark's home ever since, and he is now a first-time JUNO nominee for his album, Adventure Book, in the Adult Contemporary Album of the Year 2023 category.
Klark was introduced to the influences of Latin music in a first-year music ensemble class at Humber, which sparked his interest to travel to places like Guatemala and Mexico.
"My first language is Afrikaans, so I was trying to find my way in English in that first year and then was also thrown into this ensemble where the language I was supposed to sing in was Spanish. From there, I really fell in love with the Spanish language, culture, music and sound."
Stuck at home during the pandemic, Klark started working on what would become Adventure Book as he looked back on his travels. The song "Fuego" is inspired by the name of the volcano Klark climbed in Guatemala, while "Pirates" is inspired by a night on the beach in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.
"During the first month of COVID, I just sat behind the piano and had the time to think about all these experiences – trips that I went on, people that I've met, music that I've heard – and just started writing," said Klark.
As an independent artist, Klark says his biggest hurdle has been getting to the point where he's able to fund his music career and create a product he felt was worthy of submitting to the JUNOS.
"Being able to attend the event allows me to really soak up this wonderful honour and provides a chance for me to connect with fellow industry professionals with whom I could collaborate with on future projects," said Klark.
Check out Francois' song Pirates on Spotify.
To find out more about the TD Commitment to Music visit https://www.tdmusic.com/