Canadian music rocks

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on June 21, 2021
Did you know that Canada has the sixth-largest music industry in the world? Many internationally known artists are Canadian. First Nations Peoples, the French, British, Irish, and other nationalities have all contributed to the Canadian music scene. Canada is best known for folk, rock, and jazz-inspired music, but Canadian artists perform music of all genres. Canadian music is also influenced by American music and pop culture because of the proximity between the two countries.

In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates the music industry. According to the CRTC, 35 per cent of popular music played on English and French-language radio stations each week is Canadian content. CBC/Radio Canada has to play at least 50 per cent Canadian content each week. This is a way of promoting Canadian artists within Canada.

Notable artists

Canada is home to many internationally known artists and lesser-known artists. These artists and bands have made great contributions to the Canadian music scene.

  • Drake – a rapper and singer from Toronto, Drake proudly calls Toronto home and has popularized the “Toronto sound.”
    Bryan Adams – a rock singer and guitarist from Kingston, Ont., Bryan Adams has had several No. 1 hits in Canada and other countries. He also wrote the music and lyrics for Pretty Woman: The Musical.
  • Great Big Sea – a Canadian folk-rock band from Newfoundland. They are best known for their rock interpretations of traditional Newfoundland songs and sea shanties.
  • Neil Young – a singer-songwriter and musician from Toronto, Neil Young has extensive discography that goes back to 1968. He has won several Juno and Grammy Awards and has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He frequently mixes folk, rock, country, and other music styles together.
  • Celine Dion – Celine Dion is a singer from Charlemagne, Que. She is the best-selling Canadian recording artist of all time and is known for her technically powerful voice. She has recorded albums in both English and French. She is known for singing “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic.
  • Joni Mitchell – Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter from Fort Macleod, Alta. She is widely regarded as being one of the best songwriters of all time. Her music is inspired by folk, pop, rock, classical, and jazz. She has won nine Grammys and has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Justin Bieber – Justin Bieber is a singer, songwriter, and pop star from London, Ont. He released his debut album when he was 16 which featured the hit song “Baby.”
  • Shawn Mendes – from Pickering, Ont., Shawn Mendes is a pop singer-songwriter who was discovered by posting covers of songs on Vine. He released his first self-titled EP (extended play or mini-album) in 2014 and his first full length album, Handwritten, in 2015.
  • Rush – Rush is a highly influential rock band that was formed in Toronto in 1968. They are best known for their blues-rock and progressive-rock style. British hard rock bands like Led Zepplin, The Who, and Black Sabbath had a big influence on their style.
  • Blue Rodeo – Blue Rodeo is a country-rock band from Toronto. Over the years, they have recorded 15 studio albums, four live recordings, a greatest hits album, and engaged in other solo albums, side projects, and collaborations.


Music festivals

During the summer months, Canadians enjoy attending music festivals across the country. There are music festivals for all kinds of genres of music in almost every province:

  • Montreal International Jazz Festival – a 10-day celebration of jazz music and other styles of music. It is the biggest jazz festival in the world.
  • Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts – an indie music that takes place over a weekend in Montreal. There are six stages and dozens of new and established artists that perform at the festival. Previous headliners have included Florence + the Machine, Childish Gambino, Lorde, Lana del Rey, and The Weeknd.
  • North by Northeast – sometimes known as NXNE, North by Northeast is an annual music and gaming festival held in Toronto every June. It celebrates community and new music with panels, showcases, parties, and more.
  • Ottawa Bluesfest – an outdoor music festival that takes place every July in downtown Ottawa. It historically focused on blues-inspired music but has included artists from other genres such as hip hop, R&B, reggae, and rock in recent years.
  • Boots and Hearts Music Festival – a weekend-long country music and camping festival that takes place in Oro-Medonte, Ont.
  • Cavendish Beach Music Festival – Cavendish Beach Music Festival is Atlantic Canada’s largest outdoor music festival, and it takes place in Cavendish, P.E.I. Artists from a wide variety of genres perform there.
  • Winnipeg Folk Festival – this festival features a variety of local, national, and international artists. It’s more than just folk music. There’s also indie, rock, country, electronic, and Americana music that is performed. There’s something for everyone.
  • Ever After – a bass and electronic music fantasy festival that takes place over a weekend in June in Kitchener, Ont.
  • Celtic Colours – this is an international music festival that celebrates Celtic music. It’s held every October on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. There’s also lots of dancing and bagpipes.

traditional music

The Juno Awards

The Juno Awards are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards or the Brit Awards. Junos are given to Canadian artists and bands in recognition of their artistic and technical achievements in music. Awards are given out for many categories such as Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and specific genre Album of the year. Categories are judged by members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science. As part of the awards ceremony, new members are inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. This ceremony is televised and features live performances from artists. It’s a fun night to celebrate Canadian music.

Canada has a really great music scene, and there’s something for everyone, no matter what type of music you like.

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