From Shawn Mendes to Drake, the line-up of Canadian nominees at the 2020 Grammy Awards are old pros in the Top 40 community. That’s especially true considering that the leading contenders Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Lizzo all achieved their first No. 1 hits over the past year.
So when the 62nd Grammy Awards get underway Sunday on Citytv and CBS, with Alicia Keys as host, look for Mendes to bring the heat as he performs his nominated duet “Senorita” alongside his girlfriend Camila Cabello.
Drake, who hasn’t confirmed his attendance this year, could offer a slice of global celebrity if he wins either of his two nominations and takes the stage for an acceptance speech.
The other wildcard is Justin Bieber who is not nominated but might show up to promote his single “Yummy,” which was released outside the Grammys eligibility period.
Shania Twain, who has five Grammys to her name, is among the presenters.
Most Grammy categories with Canadian nominees will be announced in the ”premiere ceremony,” which takes place before the televised event and will be streamed online at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Here are the highlights to keep an eye on:
REYEZ SHINES: Count first-time nominee Jessie Reyez among the most enthusiastic Grammy contenders this year. The former Toronto Argonauts cheerleader paid her dues in the local music scene before winning two Juno Awards, and now vies for a Grammy in the urban contemporary album category for her EP “Being Human in Public.” Reyez eagerly campaigned on social media for the trophy, posting a series of memes using old pictures of herself with a superimposed Grammy in her clutches. “If you haven’t voted and u wanna see me explode go ahead and vote for my project,” she wrote in an Instagram post that showed her bursting out of a Grammy award.
DRAKE DOUBLES UP: Aubrey Graham, better known as Drake, is the leading Canadian nominee with nods for two different collaborations. He’s part of Chris Brown’s “No Guidance,” which is in the running for best R&B song. He also shares a nomination with Rick Ross on “Gold Roses” for best rap song, co-produced by Drake’s longtime Toronto-based collaborator Noah Shebib. Drake’s relationship with the Grammys has been patchy. Two years ago, he chose not to submit his album “More Life” for consideration. Then he bucked expectations last year by showing up to accept the best rap song title. While holding his trophy, he told the audience that winning awards wasn’t necessary as long as musicians have fans showing up to their live shows.
POWER POP: Two generations of flirtatious Canadian heartthrobs are vying for prizes in different pop categories. Mendes shares his nomination for “Senorita” with Cabello in the best pop duo or group performance category. And Michael Buble is chasing a best traditional pop vocal album win for ”Love,” a collection of classic ballads that includes “Forever Now,” a heart-wrenching song Buble wrote for his children.
LUCKY NINE?: Alberta singing group Northern Cree returns to the Grammys with their ninth nomination in 18 years. ”When It’s Cold — Cree Round Dance Songs,” is the group’s 40th album, and competes in the best regional roots category. Steve Wood, co-founder of the Indigenous group, says he hopes to win so he can bring a Grammy to his students in Maskwacis, Alta., where he’s a school administrator. Despite leaving empty-handed eight times, Northern Cree is nowhere near the most-nominated contender to never win. That claim goes to Norwegian classical sound engineer Morten Linberg, who’s running zero for 28.
RETURNING CHAMPIONS: Daniel Caesar’s collaboration with Brandy on “Love Again” could earn the Oshawa, Ont.-born singer his second Grammy in as many years in the best R&B performance category. Songwriter Bernie Herms, who was born in London, Ont., and spent his childhood moving across Canada, is also shooting for his second prize with “Only Jesus.” The album was recorded by rock band Casting Crowns and is recognized in the best contemporary Christian music performance or song category. And then there’s Nova Scotia soprano Barbara Hannigan, up for her second trophy as she competes for best opera recording with “Benjamin: Lessons in Love & Violence,” written by English composer George Benjamin.
REMIX FIX: While Montreal electronic musician Marie Davidson isn’t technically nominated for a Grammy this year, that won’t keep her from attending the ceremony. She says she will make her way to Los Angeles as a guest of Belgian brothers David and Stephen Dewaele, who are nominated in the best remixed recording category for an adrenaline-powered club version of her song, “Work It.”
David Friend, The Canadian Press