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The Weeknd, Bieber lead year of firsts for Canadian Grammy nominees

David Friend, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 16th, 2016

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It was a night of career firsts for Canadian artists at the Grammys who together brought home six awards.

A thunderous year of chart-topping hits culminated at the music industry’s biggest awards show on Monday as both Justin Bieber and the Weeknd walked away winners.

But most of their praise was reserved for a pre-telecast ceremony streamed live on the Grammys website, rather than the prime time show itself.

Neither performer attended the smaller event.

Bieber scored the best dance recording honour as part of a collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo on the song “Where Are U Now.”

The Weeknd, a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye, nabbed two golden gramophones before the televised show.

He collected one for best urban contemporary album for “Beauty Behind the Madness” and another for best R&B performance on “Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” from the original soundtrack for the film “Fifty Shades Of Grey.”

Their absence at the earlier showcase wasn’t surprising.

Performers will often march down the red carpet rather than attend the preliminary event where about 70 awards in less prominent categories are handed out at a different venue.

Canadian acts collectively had more than 20 nominations, capping off a sensational year in which Canucks at one time commanded seven of the top 10 spots in the Billboard Hot 100.

The Weeknd was nominated for a total of seven Grammys and appeared to have plenty of support from his peers in the music industry.

During the televised ceremony, the Weeknd performed a medley of “Can’t Feel My Face” and “In the Night” sharply dressed in a tuxedo, as Canadian songwriter and composer Stephan Moccio played piano.

Adele was quick to jump to her feet with a standing ovation, clearly thinking he earned it.

Bieber hit the stage later with Skrillex and Diplo to perform a double bill of his own track “Love Yourself” and the Grammy-winning “Where Are U Now.”

Bieber opened the set strumming a guitar and wearing a cheetah-print jacket before he appeared to get tangled in the instrument’s strap while taking it off. He tossed the guitar aside and raced to the stage to join Skrillex and Diplo on a rock-flavoured rendition of their freshly-crowned Grammy winner.

Joni Mitchell arrives at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring Martin Bandier on Feb. 7, 2015 in Los Angeles. WIRE IMAGE/Steve Granitz.
Joni Mitchell arrives at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring Martin Bandier on Feb. 7, 2015 in Los Angeles. WIRE IMAGE/Steve Granitz.

The singer can also count himself an indirect winner in another Grammy. The song “Where Are U Now” also appears on a Skrillex and Diplo collaboration, released under the moniker Jack U, which won best dance/electronic album.

Among the other Canadian Grammy winners were legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell for best album notes on “Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced.” It was the ninth Grammy of her career.

Three other Canadians marked their first Grammy wins.

Sound engineer Charles Moniz, who grew up in Burlington, Ont., was part of the team who won record of the year for Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars. Moniz helped dream up the catchy “doh” vocal bassline that opens the track.

Best historical album went to producers Jan Haust, a native of London, Ont., and Hamilton’s Peter Moore for “The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11.”

The duo shared the award with Steve Berkowitz, Jeff Rosen and Mark Wilder.

The “Basement Tapes” set features music from Bob Dylan and Toronto’s the Band recorded in 1967 but never released in its entirety.

Seemingly lost to time, the Band’s Garth Hudson discovered the recordings inside a storage locker when he was cleaning it out. The tapes were sent to Toronto for restoration and released last year.

“This is a gift that everybody buys for their father,” Moore said in a recent interview.

“You also have a lot of young people who are finding out about this music for the first time.”

Haust and Moore met nearly 30 years ago when they were part of the Toronto music scene. Both have dedicated part of their careers unearthing old recordings _ pieces of music history _ before they deteriorate into oblivion.

“You put your best efforts forward trying to figure out where a tape can be,” said Moore.

Toronto hip-hop darling Drake lost all five awards he was nominated for, including best rap performance for “Back to Back” and best rap album for “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.”

The rapper was coming off the NBA all-star weekend in Toronto and was not scheduled to perform at the Grammys.

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