Five vie for reggae JUNO
Kairo McLean

Allan Reid, president of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), promoters of the annual JUNO Awards, has described 14-year-old Kairo McLean as an outstanding talent.

"I met Kairo last year and what an outstanding and incredible young man. He is a talented young man and the JUNOs is about celebrating and elevating artistes. It's a community and it's their peers who are celebrating them," Reid disclosed in an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

Reid made his remarks shortly after the nominations for the 52nd JUNO Awards were announced.

McLean, who won the 2022 Reggae Recording of The Year, has Jamaican heritage. He is nominated twice in that category this year for In The Streets and Reggae Party, on which he collaborated with singer Kirk Diamond and producer Finn.

In the Streets is produced by Pablo Frass.

"I am happy that the message of peace is not dead in reggae and it's good that Canada appreciates the music. Since winning the JUNO last year, my life has changed a lot. I have been very busy, but I love doing music and I love doing what I do," McLean told the Jamaica Observer.

Kirk Diamond, who secured his fifth nomination (he won the award in 2018 for Greater), said the collaboration with McLean was natural as they are friends and from the same area (Ontario) in Canada.

"Me and Kairo hang out a lot and I asked him to put a verse on the song. We are actually friends outside of music," said Diamond.

Commenting on the nomination, Diamond said, "Over the past 12 months, I have been to Europe five times and it is like they are surprised that we have something in Canada like the JUNOs on that level. The JUNOs have given me a notoriety that I hadn't experienced before. We get a different kind of spotlight than we'd get from the reggae community. This is due to the JUNO and I am forever grateful."

This is Diamond's third-consecutive nomination.

Five-time winner Exco Levi is nominated for the song Jah Love, which is produced by Wicked Vybez Records. This is his 10th nomination.

"It's always a great feeling to be nominated in Canada's biggest music awards with reggae music," said Exco Levi.

Newcomer Celena, who is originally from Kingston, is nominated for the song Like A Star, while Clarendon native Ammoye secured her sixth nomination for the album Water.

Water is co-produced by Jamaican duo Natural High, Adrian "Donsome" Hanson, Danny Maestro, Senior All Stars, DJ Agile and Thomas Blondet.

"I feel like this is my best work yet. It feels good to come back in this way. This body of work represents a whole new me and I am happy that they are acknowledging me. It's an independent album and I wrote every song on it. It was inspired by the people for the people," said Ammoye.

The 52nd JUNO Awards takes place on March 23 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. It will be aired live on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Exco Levi
Kirk Diamond
Kevin Jackson

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