Meet the 2021 Juno Nominees: Leela Gilday

From now until the 2021 Juno Awards are presented on May 16, we will offer this weekly column to help you get to find out more about a few of the nominees in a variety of categories a little better. Here is a look at an acclaimed Indigenous singer/songwriter with two nominations.

Meet the 2021 Juno Nominees: Leela Gilday

By Jason Schneider

From now until the 2021 Juno Awards are presented on May 16, we will offer this weekly column to help you get to know some of the nominees in all categories a little better.

Meet the 2021 Juno Nominees:

Leela Gilday- Nominated in the categories of Contemporary Roots Album and Indigenous Artist of the Year.

Listening to Leela Gilday’s music, it’s easy to be transported to the far north, the area where she calls home and has drawn songwriting inspiration from her entire life. On her latest album North Star Calling, Gilday has offered her most emotionally charged collection to date, weaving together traditional songform with modern production values to share her experiences as a member of the Dene nation.


Gilday was born in Délįne, Northwest Territories on the shore of Great Bear Lake and began singing publicly at age 8. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Alberta in 1997 and released her first album, Spirit World, Solid Wood, in 2002, which garnered her first Juno nomination.

Her next album, 2006’s Sedzé, won the Juno for Aboriginal Recording of the Year, and each of her subsequent releases have brought in a wide range of other accolades. However, she tells us that receiving word of her nominations this year felt particularly special.

“Being nominated in these two categories is so meaningful to me, and couldn't come at a better time. Because the last year has been so difficult, artists have been forced to examine our relationship with music, and for many—including myself—I believe it has been a lifesaver. I have drawn a deep solace not only from listening, but from creating.”

Having performed with her four-piece band in every province and territory in Canada, as well as in the U.S., Greenland, Australia, New Zealand and several countries in Europe, Gilday has developed a deep connection with her audience by making each show feel like a journey. It’s something she misses terribly, and wants to return to as soon as possible.


“For anyone who is a creator and life-chain shaker, it’s truly a blessing to have a life calling that includes uplifting, empowering, and strengthening people. Being recognized for it is a bonus—a way to shine a light on just a small number of people—but I think at the end of the day music is the star here, and I'm so honoured and happy to be able to play my music and tell my stories.”

Indeed, music is Leela Gilday’s way to share light and dark and life’s most vulnerable moments with a clarity and genuine purpose that reassures her listeners through every word. She is a storyteller, and through this, reflects the world onto itself.


Label: Diva Sound Records

Booking: AIM/Nicole Rochefort

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024


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