Allan Reid, president of the JUNO Awards says he wants to make clear that Indigenous musicians are not confined to just one category.
“There’s nothing preventing them from submitting to other areas where they could be nominated,” Reid told APTN News.
At this year’s JUNO awards, most of the Indigenous musicians were nominated into the same category, Indigenous Music Album of the Year.
The only other Indigenous act outside that category was the sister duo LoveCollide. They won under best Contemporary Christian Gospel album of the year.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids (SNRK) were among the nominees for Indigenous Music Album of the year and expressed concern for the lack of Indigenous musicians in other categories.
“They put us all into one group. So there’s four or five different genres put into one category, you know what I mean?” said Darren “Young D” Metz.
SNRK said their music is ready for mainstream audiences.
“I do take pride in it, but at the same time I think it’s kind of wack,” said Metz.
(Snotty Nose Rez Kids at the Juno awards in Toronto)
Reid said that while the JUNO awards have a special category for Indigenous music, Indigenous artists are not obligated to submit into it.
“Snotty Nose Rez Kids are totally eligible to go into the rap category,” he said. “It does mean that their competition for that is certainly a lot greater.”
Reid said factors like consumption and sales are considered.
Currently any musician can submit to any category but are judged by a panel that determines final nominees and winner.
“We have music advisory committees set up for all of the different genres,” Reid said, adding that he welcomes any feedback from anyone who might be concerned with the process.
“We rely on the community to tell us how we can best represent. Especially when it comes to Indigenous music, because I agree. I understand what they guys from Snotty Nose Rez Kids are saying.”
The Indigenous Music Album of the year award is a great way to discover talent and kick start careers according to Reid.
“I think it might be the initial break in their career.”
“There’s a lot of world class music here that is being created,” referring to the Indigenous Music award nominees.
Reid said he hopes to see more Indigenous musicians submit to next year’s awards.
“Not to say that our work here is done, we can always try to improve.”
The 2020 JUNO awards will be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.