the sea of waking dreams

Monday, March 23, 1998

Sarah McLachlan building a Juno dynasty

VANCOUVER (CP) -- Forget the Juno awards -- Sunday night's Canadian music industry celebration looked a lot more like a Sarah McLachlan extravaganza.

It was the cap to a huge year for the Halifax-born, Vancouver-based singer, who has become one of the most celebrated Canadian women of the decade.

The Canadian music industry showered McLachlan with honors at the 27th annual awards gala held at GM Place.

McLachlan scooped awards in all four categories in which she had been nominated: best album (Surfacing), best single (Building a Mystery), female vocalist of the year and best songwriter, which she shares with collaborator Pierre Marchand.

Her all-women Lilith Fair was hailed as the North American festival tour of the summer. Her album Surfacing has released three top 10 singles so far, with more to come, and she took home two U.S. Grammy awards.

"I've been doing this for 10 years and it's been a wonderful time for me, a wonderful career. I haven't been an overnight sensation -- I've been given the time to ease my way into it," McLachlan said after the show.

"To come home and get these awards is really a big thrill for me. I honestly kind of never expected to get them so it's really great."

One major disappointment for the 10,000 fans who paid to get into B.C. Place for the event was the last-minute cancellation of a performance by Toronto's Our Lady Peace -- who picked up group of the year and the fan-voted rock album of the year award.

They didn't perform as scheduled after lead singer Raine Maida landed in hospital with a chronic back condition, but other members of the band were on hand to accept the Junos.

"Obviously things are not as they should be," said OLP guitarist Mike Turner.

"We're very disappointed we won't be able to play tonight. We've been working really hard in the States and this was a chance to come home, be among friends, our peers and play."

Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith of St. Catharines, Ont., performed in their place. He scored his first Juno for best solo roots and traditional album with his Other Songs.

One of Canada's other internationally successful female artists, Shania Twain, was named female country artist of the year, while Calgary's Paul Brandt took both best male vocalist and country male vocalist awards.

"Any celebration or award or anything that happens to me in Canada is very special," said a beaming Twain, who grew up in Timmins, Ont. "So thank you so much."

Later, Olympic gold medal snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, who handed out the best alternative album award, joked with the crowd about almost losing his medal after testing positive for marijuana at this year's Winter Games.

"You want to see it?" Rebagliati said, digging into his suit pocket and holding the medal aloft.

"A little British Columbia gold," he said as the audience hooted.

Vancouver rappers the Rascalz declined their best rap prize for the hit song Cash Crop. The group said they couldn't accept the award, handed out in a pre-televised ceremony, until urban music is given higher profile at the awards.

"It's not out there, it's not represented and we decided that until it is we're gonna take a stance for people before and people afterwards to have an opportunity because it just gets blown by," said Rascalz manager Sol Guy at a behind-the-scenes news conference.

The nine-member Leahy family, Celtic fiddle-rockers from Lakefield, Ont., were named best new group, while Winnipeg singer Holly McNarland was voted best new solo artist.

Leahy, led by talented fiddler Donnell Leahy, were also named best instrumental artists of the year.

The Juno audience was treated to performances by McLachlan, Jann Arden, Leahy and Twain at the gala hosted by Jason Priestly, the Vancouver-born star of TV's Beverly Hills 90210.

Mishi Donovan won for best recording from Aboriginal Canada and Farmer's Daughter was named best country group of the year.

Moist of Kingston, Ont., was honored for best video of the year for Gasoline, directed by Javier Aguilera.

Record producer David Foster, who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, was introduced at the ceremonies by legendary Michael Jackson producer Quincy Jones.

Foster, a native of Victoria, B.C., who has produced some of the most influential artists of the last 20 years, said he's always been proud of being Canadian.

"We have a sound, we have an identity -- we are Canadian," Foster said as the audience screamed its approval.

Missing from the ceremonies was Foster's client Quebec diva Celine Dion, who opted not to enter any songs this year. Alanis Morissette, another heavy hitter in the Canadian music business, didn't put out a new album.

Ballots for the Juno awards are cast by the approximately 4,800 members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science, a body of record industry executives and experts set up to organize the annual honors.


Rock Album of the Year (fan voted):Clumsy, Our Lady Peace
Single of the Year:Building a Mystery, Sarah McLachlan
Album of the Year:Surfacing, Sarah McLachlan
Female Vocalist of the Year:Sarah McLachlan
Male Vocalist of the Year:Paul Brandt
Group of the Year:Our Lady Peace
Best New Group:Leahy
Hall of Fame:David Foster
Country Female Vocalist of the Year:Shania Twain
Country Male Vocalist of the Year:Paul Brandt
Best Alternative Album:Glee, bran van 3000
Songwriter of the Year:Sarah McLachlan and Pierre Marchand, Building a Mystery (Sarah McLachlan)

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