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Atlantic Canadian voices resonate on national stage

Singer Ria Mae poses for a photo in Toronto in 2016. Halifax is known for its contingent of sweet-sounding singer-songwriters, but a new crop of artists is churning out music with a bit more sparkle. EDUARDO LIMA • CP
Singer Ria Mae poses for a photo in Toronto in 2016. Halifax is known for its contingent of sweet-sounding singer-songwriters, but a new crop of artists is churning out music with a bit more sparkle. EDUARDO LIMA • CP - Canadian Press

The musical diversity of Atlantic Canada was on display in the 2018 Juno Award nominations, announced in Toronto on Tuesday. The annual nationwide music honours will be handed out in Vancouver the weekend of March 24 and 25.

Halifax singer Ria Mae saw her latest album, My Love, appear in the pop album of the year category alongside recent releases by Hedley, Lights, Ruth B and Scott Helman. Tweeting that she was “thankful to be in such great company,” Mae’s nomination comes after a busy year that saw her co-headline a cross-Canada tour with Helman and play a sold-out show with Symphony Nova Scotia during October’s Halifax Pop Explosion.

Fresh from seeing her acclaimed album Natural Conclusion nominated for a Grammy award, Halifax-based P.E.I. native Rose Cousins was featured in the songwriter of the year category for her songs Chosen and Grace. She joins Newfoundland’s Amelia Curran (also up for contemporary roots album of the year), Gord Downie & Kevin Drew, Helman and Charlotte Cardin on a strong list of contenders. No stranger to the Junos’ winners’ circle, Cousins’ previous album, 2013’s We Have Made a Spark, won the prize for solo roots and traditional album of the year.

The traditional roots album category was three-fifths Maritime artists, with Halifax sister duo Cassie and Maggie listed for their third release, The Willow Collection, while busy Cape Breton combo Coig was nominated for Rove. P.E.I. trio the East PointersSisters and bandmates, Sara and Tegan Quin and Halifax-based singer Ria Mae (pictured above) joined a chorus of Canadian LGBTQ YouTubers, calling on the video service to stop filtering out gay and trans-themed videos for some users. CONTRIBUTED — performing this Friday at Halifax’s Marquee Ballroom— is also in the category for What We Leave Behind,after a busy year on the road that included visits to the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

Other nominations of note include Toronto-based band Alvvays, featuring Cape Bretonraised Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan, up for two Junos, including group of the year and alternative album of the year for Antisocialites. Windsor saxophonist and two-time Juno Awardwinner Mike Murley adds another nominee to his resume for The North, a collaboration with David Braid, Anders Mogensen and Johnny Aman, in the jazz album of the year: group category.

Soprano Barbara Hannigan, originally from Waverley, recently won a Grammy for her album Crazy Girl Crazy. The same recording is nominated at the Junosin the classical album of the year (vocal or choral) category.

Although he’s spending more time in Nashville now than in Nova Scotia, East Coast transplant and two-time Juno winner Dean Brody saw his latest, Beautiful Freakshow, nominated for country music album of the year.

Also of special note is Iqaluit combo the Jerry Cans, featuring Halifax violinist and former Gypsophilia member Gina Burgess, which earned nods for breakthrough group of the year and contemporary roots album of the year for its third release Inuusiq (Life).

The Juno Awards will be handed out in Vancouver over the March 24-25 weekend, with the live broadcast awards gala returning to CBC-TV for the first time in 16 years on March 25.

For a full list of 2018 Juno Awards nominees, visit junoawards. ca.

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