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The quintessential CanRock band will receive the 2021 humanitarian award at this year's award ceremony
The Tragically Hip essentially retired as a band with the death of frontman Gord Downie in 2017, but the members of the quintessential CanRock act have stayed busy maintaining their legacy in various ways. They’ve made appearances with other artists, protected their copyright and even recently joined TikTok, encouraging fans to add vocals to Ahead By A Century.
They’ve also stayed busy with philanthropy with organizations like Camp Trillium, The Canadian Cancer Society, the Sunnybrook Foundation, the Special Olympics and the late Downie’s Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund for Indigenous reconciliation.
That work has earned them the humanitarian award at this year’s 50th anniversary Juno Awards. And they’ll accept it with a rare performance, teaming with Canadian singer/songwriter Feist.
“We’ve known Leslie Feist for over 20 years, having toured together in 1999,” the Tragically Hip said in a statement. “We are all huge fans and Gord loved her. It’s an honour to be able to play one of our songs with her. It’s been such a difficult year for our fellow musicians, we wanted to do something to honour them in a way that would make Gord smile.”
“I had a chance to tour with The Hip early on in my touring life, for something like a year,” said Feist. “Getting to be a fly on the wall of a camp that operated with such warmth and community by day, and then watch them transform and transcend every night to touch so many people was my first big education.
“I was a kid in their midst and I’m touched to be invited into the clan now, to play alongside them. The only way I’m making any sense of it is to imagine I’ll be singing backups for Gord, and know my 20-year-old self wouldn’t believe it. Like the rest of Canada, I’ll be so happy to hear these kings of song play again, and am very honoured to join them as they receive their Humanitarian Award.”
The band hasn’t revealed which song they’ll be performing, but Feist did record a cover of Flamenco in tribute to Gord Downie in 2017.
This year’s Junos are taking place in Toronto and from a variety of venues throughout Canada. For the second year, it will be a mostly audience-less celebration. The event was originally supposed to take place on May 16, but has been postponed to June 6. It will air on CBC TV, Radio One, Music and Gem.
While paying tribute to artists and venues who have been affected during the pandemic, the awards have also promised to confront systemic racism.