The main Juno Awards gala takes place Sunday in Toronto and will air live at 8 pm on CBC-TV.

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Montreal-born Allison Russell has lived and worked as a musician for years in the US, but she said it means a lot to her to have received two Juno Award nominations.

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Russell nabbed nominations for contemporary roots album—for her debut solo album, Outside Child—and songwriter of the year for the Canadian music awards. She was up for three Grammys earlier this year for the 2021 album.

The main Juno Awards gala takes place Sunday in Toronto and will air live at 8 pm on CBC-TV.

“It’s a really big deal,” Russell said in a phone interview Friday from Toronto. “I’ve been a working artist for over 20 years, and of course my life and career began in Canada. So it means a lot to be acknowledged by our Canadian Juno Awards.

“It’s really emotional to be back in my homeland after so many years. I come back every year and stay a while, but since the pandemic, I haven’t been home. It’s a big deal to be seen and heard after I had felt like I was flying under the radar (in Canada) for most of my career.”

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Outside Child is an album of soulful, rootsy songs, most of them inspired by the horrendously tough early years of Russell’s life in Montreal. She was sexually abused by her stepfather de ella until she fled from the family home as a teenager.

Russell is now writing a memoir for Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan.

“One of my big challenges is navigating the kind of very intensive internal work and almost evisceration that is required to write this memoir, with the outward-facing aspects of what I need to do right now,” she said. “I feel like I’m starting to make some real progress. Like today at the hotel I spent the morning writing. It’s been a real learning process. I’ve never written a book.”

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The leading nominee at the Junos this year is Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin, who has six nominations — more than Justin Bieber and the Weeknd, who each have five. Cardin is nominated for pop album and album of the year for her debut, Phoenix; single for Meaningless; artist of the year; TikTok Fan Choice; and video of the year for Meaningless. Cardin will perform at the Juno ceremony, as will Montreal’s Arcade Fire, which just released its album WE.

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Montreal’s Coeur de pirate, aka Béatrice Martin, is up for two Junos for two different albums. Perséides, a collection of piano pieces she released last year, is nominated for instrumental album, and her de ella latest franco pop long-player Impossible à aimer is one of five albums in the hunt for the prize as francophone album of the year. The other nominees in the latter category are Fouki’s Grignotines de luxe, Louis-Jean Cormier’s Le ciel est au plancher, Roxane Bruneau’s Acrophobie and Vincent Vallières’s Toute beauté n’est pas perdue.

“I feel very lucky,” Martin said by phone Friday while en route by car to Rivière-du-Loup with her three-month-old son for a gig. “I didn’t expect the instrumental album to even do well and be nominated and be recognized. So it was a nice surprise. I’m often nominated at the Junos, but I’ve never won.”

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Coeur de pirate, aka Béatrice Martin, is up for two Junos for two different albums.
Coeur de pirate, aka Béatrice Martin, is up for two Junos for two different albums. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

Montreal band Half Moon Run is nominated in the category of adult alternative album for Inwards and Onwards. The wrinkle is that it is actually an EP, with a running time of 19 minutes.

“I was a bit surprised because it’s a six-song EP, but I guess an EP is an album,” said Devon Portielje, singer and multi-instrumentalist with Half Moon Run, from his hotel room in Toronto Friday. “To some degree, I have to withdraw myself from getting attached to (award nominations) because I’m honored but I don’t want it to affect me, because there’s a risk it will make me complacent if I win. I’m grateful for the honor and the recognition, but I don’t want it to impede my ability to continue.”

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Quebec art-rock cellist Jorane is also nominated for instrumental album, for her 2021 release Hemenetset.

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“I was just so happy (with the nomination) because I’ve been working for so long on that project,” said Jorane. “I was really touched. I’ve played in Canada (outside Quebec) playing the folk fests. The nomination is especially important because I make instrumental music. I’m expressing my emotions and my art through a language that has no boundaries. My music has always traveled all around the world and it’s really important to me that it speaks to the heart, to the soul. And that has no boundaries, right?”

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