There’s so many major accomplishments coming from Canadian artists, it’s hard to narrow down only a few.
Musically, we’ve always been a country that has a lot on offer, and at any given time there are numerous Canadian artists that have been able to break records on the music charts. Canadian icons like Céline Dion and the late Gord Downie have had monumental careers, with plenty of accolades to their names.
Here are seven of the biggest recent wins for Canadian musicians.
Brampton’s Alessia Cara is the first Canadian-born performer to win best new artist at the Grammys. She accepted the award at the 2018 Grammy Awards ceremony — which was the first Grammy of her career — saying that she’s been “pretend winning” Grammys in the shower since she was a kid. The 21-year-old singer encouraged people to “support real music and real artists,” and added that “everyone deserves the same shot.” —KS
Toronto artist Drake has dominated the Billboard charts and has been present on the Hot 100 for eight consecutive years. The Nice For What rapper appeared in 24 slots on the chart back in March 2017, which nobody had ever done before. He struck another milestone at the beginning of April as the first male solo lead performer to achieve two 10-week chart toppers on the Hot 100 with God’s Plan and One Dance. Drake is now the solo artist with the most appearances on the Hot 100, charting a total of 162 songs (including features) on the list in his career so far. —KS
A Guinness Book of World Records representative presented Justin Bieber with a plaque for becoming the youngest male artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The plaque was for his three chart-topping albums before reaching his 18th birthday: My World 2.0 debuted at No. 1 in April 2010, Never Say Never: The Remixes made its chart-topping debut in March 2011, and Under the Mistletoe, the Canadian pop star’s Christmas album, debuted at No. 1 in November 2011. Under the Mistletoe is the first Christmas album by a male artist to debut at No. 1 in the 55-year history of Billboard’s albums chart. —KS
Toronto R&B singer The Weeknd became the first artist to simultaneously hold the top three positions on Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs chart with The Hills, Earned It and Can’t Feel My Face. The Weeknd is also the only Canadian singer to collaborate with Marvel. His comic book, titled The Weekend Presents: Starboy, received a June 13 release date and will feature the singer as the hero of the comic. —KS
Pickering, Ont.’s Shawn Mendes is the first artist to have three No. 1 songs on the Adult Contemporary chart before turning the age of 20. There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back, Stitches and Treat You Better allowed Mendes to break the record. —KS
Céline Dion’s second Las Vegas residency, seen by over 200,000 people, has made the Canadian singer the “most profitable music act in Las Vegas” since Elvis Presley. The residency, titled Celine, was performed at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, beginning March 15, 2011, with an estimated 70 performances per year. This made Dion the top money earner in Vegas, earning US$500,000 a show. —KS
It’s impossible to honour a man with such great achievements, as the late Gord Downie will always have an indelible presence on Canadian culture.
Downie released a solo album, titled Secret Path, in October 2016 inspired by the death of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old First Nations child who died while fleeing a northern Ontario residential school some 50 years ago. In December 2016, the Assembly of First Nations honoured Downie at an emotional ceremony for his work on reconciliation, where he was given a star blanket and received the name Wicapi Omani, or “walks with the stars.” After a months-long petition for Downie to receive the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest honour for a civilian), he was appointed to the Order in June 2017.
Downie’s band, The Tragically Hip, was recognized as Canadian Entertainer of the Year at the 1991 Juno Awards (a recognition they’d go on to receive again in 1993 and 1995; in 1995 and 1997 they were also recognized as Group of the Year).