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5 things that are putting a red maple leaf on this year’s Grammys

Big nominations, diverse artists among the Canadian things to watch for at Sunday’s music awards gala
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Drake performs during the “Aubrey & The Three Amigos Tour” in Toronto, Tuesday August 21, 2018. Drake holds four Grammy nominations this year, including for his 2022 album “Her Loss” with Atlanta rapper 21 Savage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Many corners of Canada’s diverse musical landscape will be represented at the Grammy Awards on Sunday in one of the strongest and most eclectic showings in recent memory.

Whether it’s global superstars, classical artists or behind-the-scenes creators, the homegrown nominees representing this year cover an array of genres and styles.

Pop music audio engineer and mixer Serban Ghenea leads the pack with seven nominations, while rapper Drake and folk singer Allison Russell each have four.

Most of the 94 Grammy categories, including many awards with Canadian nominees, are handed out at a pre-telecast ceremony which streams live on Grammy.com.

The 66th Grammy Awards hosted by Trevor Noah airs on Citytv and CBS.

Here are five Canadian things to watch for:

THE LEADER:

Since Ghenea already has an incredible 19 Grammys on his mantle, he may need to invest in another shelf after this year’s ceremony. As the top Canadian nominee, the Romania-born, Canada-raised pop wizard ends up competing against himself in several categories for different projects. In record of the year, his efforts making Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire” and Jon Batiste’s “Worship” are all chasing the title. For album of the year, he’s named for Swift’s “Midnights” and Rodrigo’s “Guts.” And in the best pop dance recording category, he has two hits with DJ and producer David Guetta that are vying for a trophy.

THE SURPRISE:

With nine Grammy wins, it’s a shock that Joni Mitchell has never performed at the big show. But the 80-year-old singer-songwriter will soon cross that experience off her list after organizers confirmed her participation in a surprise announcement a few days ago. There’s much secrecy around whether other notable musicians might join Mitchell on stage. Since the Grammys love a live collaboration, and she’s one of music’s most legendary living performers, there’s likely a long list of willing participants. Mitchell is also nominated in the best folk album category for a live album recorded in June 2022 as she returned to the stage following years of health setbacks. It competes with “Folkocracy” from fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright.

THE RISING STAR:

While Allison Russell has been lauded by critics and showered with Grammy nominations in recent years, she’s yet to win one of the golden honours. That could change as she holds four nominations for “The Returner.” Her second record is up for best Americana album, while the title track is in the running for best Americana performance, as well as American roots song. Her song “Eve Was Black” is among the nominees for American roots performance.

THE RETURN:

It’s not exactly a full-fledged Grammys comeback, but Drake appears to be softening his stance against the awards show. After several years of boycotting by not submitting his solo material for consideration, the Toronto artist garnered four nominations for tracks from his 2022 album. Here’s the catch — they’re technically all collaborations since his album “Her Loss” was created in partnership with Atlanta rapper 21 Savage. Drake’s nods are in categories for best rap album, melodic rap performance, rap song and rap performance. The real test for whether he and the Grammys make amends will be next year when “For All the Dogs,” his latest solo album, is eligible for consideration.

THE OTHERS:

Among the first-time Grammy contenders is Toronto band Alvvays, who landed a nomination for best alternative music performance with their indie hit “Belinda Says.” Montreal conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin looks to extend his three wins with another two nominations in classical categories.

There’s also Halifax-raised Henry Walter, known as producer Cirkut, who chases his second trophy with Disclosure’s “Higher Than Ever Before,” up for best dance/electronic recording. Niagara Falls, Ont.-native Joel Zimmerman, who performs as Deadmau5, splits his nomination with U.S. producer Kaskade on their effort “Kx5,” which is up for best dance or electronic album.

Rounding out the nominee highlights are William Shatner’s audiobook, Toronto hip-hop and jazz outfit Badbadnotgood in the remix category and Victoria-based metal band Spiritbox, whose “Jaded” holds a spot for best metal performance.

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