Advertisement

Artists with local ties grateful, surprised by Juno nominations

Tarek Jafar, singer/guitarist of The Blue Stones, in performance. (The Blue Stones - image credit)
Tarek Jafar, singer/guitarist of The Blue Stones, in performance. (The Blue Stones - image credit)

What do jazz trumpeter Russ Macklem, guitar rock duo The Blue Stones, and Christian singer Brooke Nicholls have in common?

They're all musicians with ties to the Windsor-Essex or Chatham-Kent area who have been nominated for 2024 Juno Awards.

Canada's premier music awards organization released its nomination lists on Tuesday.

Windsor jazz trumpeter Russ Macklem playing a rare 1942 Martin Handcraft Committee instrument.
Windsor jazz trumpeter Russ Macklem playing a rare 1942 Martin Handcraft Committee instrument.

Windsor jazz trumpeter Russ Macklem playing a rare 1942 Martin Handcraft Committee instrument. (Michael Evans/CBC)

Windsor jazzman Russ Macklem received the nod in the category of Jazz Album of the Year (Solo) for his 2023 release, The South Detroit Connection.

Macklem's debut album, the project was recorded entirely live at downtown Windsor's Phog Lounge on Jan. 4, 2023.

I'm quite surprised by it," Macklem said. "Normally kind of this thing, you kind of see the same people every year or two getting nominated and winning.

"We're from our beloved little industrial wasteland down south and ... yeah, just unexpected to get any recognition, but pleased to have."

The trumpeter led a combo with four other musicians in a series of original compositions, improvisations, and interludes.

Macklem released the project via the independent jazz label TQM Recording Co., which specializes in "live-off-the-floor" recordings.

Meanwhile, it's the third Juno nomination in the musical careers of veteran Windsor-born rockers The Blue Stones.

The duo (singer/guitarist Tarek Jafar and drummer Justin Tessier) are being recognized in the category of Rock Album of the Year for their 2022 studio effort, Pretty Monster.

Released via MNRK Music Group, Pretty Monster is The Blue Stones' third full-length release, and expands on their dynamic, catchy rock sound.

The band toured extensively in 2023 to promote the album. They're scheduled to perform festival dates in the United Kingdom this coming June.

Drummer Justin Tessier (left) and singer/guitarist Tarek Jafar (right) of the Windsor-born rock duo The Blue Stones.
Drummer Justin Tessier (left) and singer/guitarist Tarek Jafar (right) of the Windsor-born rock duo The Blue Stones.

Drummer Justin Tessier (left) and singer/guitarist Tarek Jafar (right) of the Windsor-born rock duo The Blue Stones. (eONE)

"I had zero idea this (nomination) was going to happen," Jafar told CBC Windsor. "Both Justin and I were confused. We had no idea we'd even been submitted... We found out with everybody else."

Despite his surprise, Jafar expressed gratitude for the recognition, and praised the other bands nominated in the category. "The Beaches, Glorious Sons, Crown Lands, Metric — it's such a great category to be included in, with some really amazing artists."

Christian singer Brooke Nicholls, originally of Chatham-Kent, in performance.
Christian singer Brooke Nicholls, originally of Chatham-Kent, in performance.

Christian singer Brooke Nicholls, originally of Chatham-Kent, in performance. (brookenicholls.ca)

Christian singer Brooke Nicholls has been nominated in the category of Contemporary Christian or Gospel Album of the Year for her independent release, Glory to God.

Raised in Chatham-Kent, Nicholls is the daughter of former Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls.

Glory to God is Brooke Nicholls' third album of religious music. This is her second Juno nomination.

"I feel really grateful, to be honest," Nicholls told CBC Windsor. "Usually, I have a lot of words to say. I just feel so grateful."

"What I've learned is that talent can bring you so far, but it's your kindness and your hard work that tip you over the edge."

Nicholls is currently a resident of Hamilton, and the mother of two young children, one three years old, the other three months old. Touring with such small kids is "not for the faint of heart, let me tell you," Nicholls said.

She's also held the position of worship leader at the multi-site Sanctus Church.

The 2024 Juno Awards ceremony is taking place March 24 in Halifax.