Pickering’s Kourkoutis, Mendes win big at Junos


Published May 18, 2022 at 12:46 pm

National and international awards my be old hat to young Shawn Mendes, the Pickering pop star honoured at Sunday’s JUNO Awards with a Fan Choice TikTok Award and a shiny trophy for international achievement.

But the real history came the day before at the Saturday pre-show ceremony where most of the hardware is handed out. That’s when Hill Kourkoutis, a Toronto-based record producer and engineer who was raised north of Mendes in the north Pickering hamlet of Greenwood, became the first women to ever win Recording Engineer of the Year.

“I WON A JUNO!” Kourkoutis exclaimed with delight on her Instagram page. “I am feeling beyond grateful for this immense honour. Thank-you for all the love you’ve sent my way. I wouldn’t get to do what I love to do every day without the incredible artists I get to work with and my amazing (dream) team. Thank-you to them and to my extremely supportive family, friends, teachers and mentors. Now— BACK TO WORK IN MY LAIR!”

Kourkoutis won for her work on Uxbridge singer-songwriter Tania Joy’s “The Drought” and SATE’s “Howler,” which she also produced and co-wrote.

“I do believe that we are in an immense period of transition right now,” she told reporters. “In the last five years, the conversation has grown around this issue. I am seeing so many young folks and even artists that have been established for a while entering the production profession, so I am hoping personally in 10 years we are not going to have to talk about women producers. We are just going to call them producers, and we are going to reach that gender equality that we are trying to reach right now.”

Kourkoutis thanked SATE and Joy in her acceptance speech “for trusting me with your heart and your art” and dedicated the award to her “mentor and champion,” the late Tim Thorney, a guitarist, songwriter and producer from Collingwood who died last June.

Praise from fellow artists flooded in soon after the award – adult contemporary album winner Serena Ryder, who hails from Millbrook, stuck around the press room to warmly embrace her “best friend” – and social media was abuzz with congratulations, especially from fellow students and teachers at Whitby’s Trafalgar Castle School, where Kourkoutis attended until 2005.

Other firsts at the Junos included 13-year-old Kairo McLean, the youngest performer to win for reggae recording of the year; and comedy album of the year award winner Andrea Jin, the first Asian Canadian woman to win in her category.

Breakout Montreal pop singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin won a leading three awards. She was named artist of the year, while her debut “Phoenix” received pop album of the year, and the song “Meaningless” was selected as single of the year.

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