Mark Cohon, chair of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) which puts on the annual Juno Awards, was tasked at the nominee announcement back in late January with talking about the charitable components at this year’s Juno Week (March 11-17) in London, Ontario, celebrating Canadian musicians and the best of the year, as well as the increasing need for MusiCounts, CARAS’ charitable arm.
The events with proceeds going to MusiCounts — which grants musical instruments to Canadian schools and community groups — include Juno Cup Jam (March 14), the Juno Cup hockey game (15th), Stories From The Studio (16th) and Juno Songwriters’ Circle (12-2p.m. on the 17th).
To cap it off, $1 from every ticket sold to the Juno Awards Sunday night broadcast (March 17) at the 10,294-capacity Budweiser Gardens goes to MusiCounts.
“For all of you have been in the music industry for a long time, you know that CARAS is much more than just an award show,” Cohon said. “In fact, our charity MusiCounts is really the heart of our organization and sits at the center of everything we do. We fundamentally believe that the universal language of music needs to be in schools because it opens up possibilities for so many kids across this country. Our laser focus is really keeping the music alive in schools and communities across Canada by providing instruments and musical equipment to kids.”
Since 1997, MusiCounts has awarded over $12 million in musical instruments and equipment to more than 1200 schools across Canada, supporting over 350 post-secondary music program graduates. The charity has also honoured 13 music teachers and two ambassadors.
“Last year,” Cohon said, “MusiCounts was able to serve over 12,000 kids across this country. But today our work is more important than ever. You know that music programs are being cut in schools. There is not the funding for many of the important things where a lot of these [Juno nominated] artists started. Although we are raising money…we still can't help the majority of schools and communities that reach out to us for support. So our work will continue in earnest.”
Cohon said that starting back at the end of January the Juno Awards’ London Host Committee — the government and local parties responsible for bringing the Juno Awards and lead-up Juno Week festivities to London — decided to donate $1 from every ticket sold for select shows at London Music Hall, Budweiser Gardens and Centennial Hall. “We've raised $120,000 for MusiCounts,” Cohon said at the time; the amount in early March was another 10 grand, and still counting.
“We're going to strong arm some other cities on that one. The challenge is on,” he added.
According to a press release, “For the first time ever, MusiCounts will be awarding $1 million in musical instruments and equipment to 96 schools across Canada, in part due to over $130K raised by the London Juno Host Committee.”
One of the recipients was London’s St. Paul Catholic Elementary School, whose students got a surprise visit this month from Juno-nominated singer bülow, known for her hit "Not A Love Song.” She sang two songs and helped unveil a grant of $15,000 worth of musical instruments, thanks to the school’s successful application to MusiCounts’ Band Aid Program.
“To-date the MusiCounts Band Aid Program has benefitted over 1,000 schools across Canada including St. Paul Catholic Elementary School. Despite this, there is still a significant need for instruments in many schools nationwide,” the press release states. “MusiCounts saw application numbers increase by 30 percent compared to 2018 and can currently only help 1 in 5 schools who apply.”
Another successful applicant, which will get national exposure this weekend, is London Girls Rock Camp, led by “a team of female musicians and industry contributors” and “aimed at campers aged 8-15 who self-identify as female, trans, and gender non-conforming,” it says on its web site. LGRC received $25,000 from MusiCounts’ TD Community Music Program and will be highlighted on TV Sunday night by Juno Awards host Sarah McLachlan and music camp participant Meriel Reed.
“No musical experience is necessary as we guide campers through a series of workshops and classes that are developed to build skills and confidence in their individual practice and as a band,” the web site states. “London Girls Rock Camp is inclusive and ensures that all participants are safe and comfortable.”
At the invite-only TD Green Room Friday (March 14), which provides showcase opportunities for emerging and established talent (from Kalsey Kulyk to The Trews), musicians from the Girls Rock Camp London will perform with the new musical instruments and equipment that were donated as part of MusiCounts TD Community Music Program.
Also on the weekend, Stephen Stohn and wife Linda Schuyler — the pair behind the Degrassi franchise — will be honoured as the 2019 MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassadors. Cohon called them “two remarkable people who've been great supporters of MusiCounts. Stohn helped create the Songwriters Association of Canada, wrote songs himself, and executive produced the Juno Awards for many years, but that’s not why he’s being awarded.
“Stephen was the former chair of MusiCounts and CARAS as well, and played a pivotal role in creating one of our signature events, and funding program for MusiCounts called the BandAid program,” Cohon explained.
“About three years ago, Linda and Stephen stepped up and said we need to challenge the community to put more instruments in schools. They made a half-a-million dollar donation that was to match other donations. We've already reached that goal. So we've already raised a million dollars because of them. So it's an honour for us to be able to celebrate with them.”
MusiCounts is funded by all three major labels, Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada, Warner Music Canada Ltd; in addition to a group of individuals comprising “The Leadership Circle,” TD Bank Group, Bell Media, SiriusXM Canada, the Slaight Family Foundation, Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, and this year The London Juno Host Committee.
Juno Week and the broadcast awards is an opportunity to reach the public and put MusiCounts on their radar.
The charity-related Juno Events:
Juno Cup Jam, March 14, at Rum Runners
The one-of-a-kind jam night features musicians and athletes participating in the Juno Cup hockey game the following night, including Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, Classified, The Reklaws, members of Born Ruffians, Cuff the Duke, Ferraro, Jane’s Party’s Jeff Giles, and more, backed by the Devin Cuddy Band. Hosted by CBC Sports broadcasters Rob Snoek and Sophia Jurksztowicz. Tickets $22.50 plus HST (plus fees) at Ticketmaster
Juno Cup, March 15, at Western Fair District Sports Centre
Former NHLers face off against musicians and music industry types in this fun charity hockey game. This year’s roster includes Doug Gilmour (Toronto Maple Leafs), Gary Roberts (Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs), Mark Napier (Montréal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers), Sami Jo Small (Toronto Furies), Natalie Spooner (Toronto Furies), Sarah Nurse(Toronto Furies), Renata Fast (Toronto Furies), Dennis Maruk (Washington Capitals, Minnesota North Stars), Dave McLlwain (Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets), Mike Kostka (Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators), and Brad Dalgarno (New York Islanders). Musical talent includes Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), The Reklaws, Classified, Adrian Sutherland (Midnight Shine), Amanda Rheaume, Menno Versteeg (Hollerado), Mitch Derosier & Luke Lalonde (Born Ruffians), Jeff Giles (Jane’s Party), Katie Munshaw(Dizzy) and more. Brandon Prust (Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens) will coach and former NHL ref Bill McCreary will officiate. Tickets are priced at $20 (plus fees) and are available online through budweisergardens.com. $15 tickets (plus fees) are available when purchasing 10 tickets or more.
Stories From The Studio, March 16, at Fanshawe College, School of Tourism, Hospitality, and Culinary Arts
Juno nominated and winning engineers and producers — Ben Kaplan, Eric Ratz, Greg Wells, Jason Dufour, Mike Wise, Robbie Lackritz, Shawn Everett, Steve Bays, Thomas D’Arcy, and Rookz — will participate in a panel discussion on what exactly goes into the recording sessions that have resulted in some of Canada’s most iconic songs. Hosted by Emm Gryner. The guest panelist is CEO of Sandbox Studios, Rookz. Tickets are $15 (including fees) and can be purchased via TicketWeb or 1-888-222-6608.
Juno Songwriters’ Circle, March 17, at Centennial Hall
Co-Hosted by Alan Doyle and Tom Power, this “circle” of songwriters take turns telling a story behind a song, then performing it.
Featuring Performances by: David Foster (2019 Humanitarian Award); Dan Mangan (nominated for adult alternative album); Elisapie (nominated for Indigenous music album); Laila Biali (nominated for vocal jazz album); Meghan Patrick (nominated for breakthrough artist and country album); and Tyler Shaw (nominated for pop album).Tickets starting at $49.50 (plus taxes and service fees).
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