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Drake, Justin Bieber and the Canadians behind recent pop hits head to Grammys

Some potential winners are not stars, but talent working behind the scenes
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Drake did not submit his 2022 album “Honestly, Nevermind” to the Grammys, but he still managed to pick up three nominations this year for collaborations with other performers. Drake leaves the court after the first half of NBA basketball action between Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets in Toronto on Wednesday, November 23, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Several Canadians could leave the Grammy Awards with an armful of trophies on Sunday, but most of them aren’t household names.

While Bryan Adams, Drake and Michael Buble are all contenders this year, many of the other homegrown nominees on the leaderboard are professionals behind the scenes who added pop and fizz to some of last year’s biggest records.

They include Winnipeg-born mixer Jesse Ray Ernster whose work on Doja Cat’s “Woman” is up for record of the year, and Bragg Creek, Alta.-raised music engineer Shawn Everett who contributed to Adele’s “30,” among the album of the year contenders.

There’s also North Vancouver’s Tobias Jesso Jr., a musician who found success writing songs for others, including Adele and Harry Styles who together earned him three nods, including one for songwriter of the year.

Adele also proved a good-luck charm for visual maestro Xavier Dolan, the acclaimed Montreal filmmaker who directed “Easy on Me,” which cradles a best music video nomination.

Most of the 91 Grammy categories will be awarded Sunday at an industry ceremony before the broadcast. The premiere ceremony, as it’s called, streams live on the Grammys website hosted by U.S. comedian Randy Rainbow, who’s up for best comedy album. The 65th Grammy Awards air on Citytv and CBS.

Here are five other Canadian highlights to watch for on Sunday:

THE LEADERS: Audio engineer and mixer Serban Ghenea isn’t as recognizable as the pop stars he helps sound their best, but you’ve probably heard some of his work. This year’s six-time nominee was born in Romania before moving to Canada. And he has a staggering four projects named in the album of the year category — Coldplay’s “Music Of The Spheres,” Lizzo’s “Special,” Adele’s “30” and Mary J. Blige’s “Good Morning Gorgeous.” His studio time with Blige also secured a slot for record of the year. The Grammys also recently added Ghenea to the list of names in the running for best dance/electronic recording on David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s chart smash “I’m Good (Blue).” Those nominations put him ahead of Montreal classical conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin who has five this year.

TRIPLE DRIZZY: Drake’s plan to sit out the Grammys hit a snag when his collaborations with other artists locked him three nominations. Even though the Toronto rapper didn’t submit his own 2022 album “Honestly, Nevermind,” in line with his Grammys boycott in recent years, he couldn’t escape the accolades. He earned two spots in the best rap song category for his collaboration with Jack Harlow on “Churchill Downs” and his role on Future’s “Wait For U.” He’s also an album of the year contender for his contributions to the song “Heated” on Beyoncé’s “Renaissance.”

TORONTO WONDER: Speaking of Beyoncé, she’s just one of the many musicians who’ve benefited from the magic touch of Toronto producer Boi-1da, born Matthew Samuels. He has four nominations this year, including two in the album of the year category for Bey’s “Renaissance” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.” He also received a nod as part of the Drake and Harlow nomination for best rap song, and his prolific work landed him in the producer of the year category.

FAMILIAR WINNERS: Justin Bieber’s feature-length concert film “Our World” and Neil Young’s documentary “A Band A Brotherhood A Barn” are both chasing the best music film prize. Both of them already have two Grammys to their name. Four-time Grammy winner Michael Bublé’s “Higher” is up for traditional pop vocal album, while Bryan Adams has a best rock performance nod for his song “So Happy It Hurts.” And the Weeknd’s tour opener Kaytranada, a two-time Grammy-winning DJ and producer, could scoop a third for “Intimidated,” featuring H.E.R., which is going for best dance/electronic recording. Rising Montreal star Allison Russell, who last summer played alongside Joni Mitchell at the Newport Folk Festival appearance, is looking for her first win with a nomination for best American roots performance for “Prodigal Daughter,” alongside Aoife O’Donovan.

ONE SURPRISE: Montreal band Arcade Fire’s “We” landed among the best alternative music album contenders, which caused a stir in some circles because last year lead singer Win Butler faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct that he has denied. While those allegations led some radio stations to pull the band’s music from the airwaves, Arcade Fire’s nod appears as a vote of support from the music industry. Arcade Fire is also nominated at the 2023 Juno Awards for group of the year.

—David Friend, The Canadian Press





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