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Friday, July 19, 2024

Halifax gears up to host the Junos

The annual celebration of the best in Canadian music is back in town after an 18-year absence, and while many will agree it is a long overdue return, Music Nova Scotia's Allegra Swanson says sometimes it is all in the timing.

The last time Halifax played host to the Juno Awards in 2006, Pamela Anderson hosted, Bryan Adams was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and Canadian crooner Michael Bublé took home the most trophies.

We’re really proud of how much the industry has developed in 18 years, and I am excited to showcase many of our artists who punch about their weight here. – Allegra Swanson

Fast-forward 18 years, and the Junos, the celebration of the best in Canadian music, are back in town. While most will agree it is a long overdue return, Allegra Swanson, executive director of Music Nova Scotia and the Halifax Juno host committee chair, says that sometimes it is all in the timing.

“It feels like the right time, to be honest,” says Swanson. “Coming out of the pandemic, there’s been an incredible energy shift in the community of people working together in venues that are very creative in how they program different genres, and I think that has led to it being a great time for us to showcase our music industry.”

In addition to being the right time, Swanson highlighted Halifax’s distinct charm as a host city, emphasizing its smaller size, allowing industry professionals to connect and immerse themselves in the local music scene easily.

“We have a smaller footprint and a tighter community, a tighter downtown, where all the hotels are, and so the industry will really be able to come in and feel like they can take over Halifax,” she says. “And that’s usually one of the best ways to foster community within the music industry itself. It really is a big difference.”

Discussing the economic impact of hosting the Junos, Swanson outlined both quantitative and qualitative benefits. While the expected economic impact for the city is around $12 million, beyond the financial gains, Swanson emphasized supporting local artists and fostering industry development as important offshoots to hosting the Junos.

One way the local host committee is doing this and taking advantage of the influx of artists from across the country is by providing mentorship opportunities for 12 artists across the Atlantic region.

“So they’re connecting them in advance, and they’re connecting on the ground, and those people are introducing them to people during Juno Week, making sure they get invited to the right things,” explains Swanson. “Then, afterwards, they have that ongoing connection as well.”

"It feels like the right time." - Allegra Swanson (photo above), executive director of Music Nova Scotia and the Halifax Juno host committee chair on the Junos returning to Halifax after an 18-year absence.
“It feels like the right time.” – Allegra Swanson (photo above), Music Nova Scotia executive director and the Halifax Juno host committee chair on the Junos returning to Halifax after an 18-year absence.

Although the Junos are largely industry-centric, fans can also join the celebrations ahead of the March 24 awards ceremony with Juno Week from March 21-23.

Among the events scheduled during the week are three Juno Block Parties and Junofest, a two-day festival showcasing over 100 acts across ten stages each night. With its all-access wristband, Junofest will allow audiences to take in acts across multiple venues over the two days.

Swanson explained the collaborative effort in curating a diverse lineup for Junofest, involving emerging producers to ensure a mix of established names and rising talents across genres.

“One of the great things about Junofest is that if you go to see someone like Dave Sampson at the Marquis, and that’s the only name you recognize on the list of performers, you’ll also get to experience artists you might not otherwise be aware of,” says Swanson.

Looking ahead, Swanson expressed pride in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada’s evolving music scene and anticipated showcasing the city’s current and upcoming talents to industry professionals and music enthusiasts alike. “We are excited to see who those next greats will be, the next generation of Juno nominees,” she says.

Swanson’s enthusiasm for the Junos extends beyond the event itself. She emphasizes the opportunity to redefine Halifax and Nova Scotia’s reputation in the music industry, focusing on inclusivity, innovation, and community collaboration. Swanson is confident that Halifax will leave a lasting impression on attendees and continue nurturing its music ecosystem long after the Junos have ended.

“We’re really proud of how much the industry has developed in 18 years, and I am excited to showcase many of our artists who punch above their weight here,” she says. “It will be amazing for people to have a discovery moment here in Halifax.”

Halifax hosts the 53rd annual Juno Awards from March 21-24. Visit junoawards.ca for more information.

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