I was there! By Rania M M Watts


In 1994 I had to opportunity to attend the Juno Awards at the O’Keefe Centre, which had undergone several metamorphosis name changes from its original opening on October 1, 1960.  From 1996 to 2007 it was the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts, from 2007 to 2019 the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, and on September 15, 2019 the most recent change to Meridian Hall. 

March 20, 1994 started with selecting the perfect Rock N’ Roll outfit, which consisted of a black woven fitted tank thigh high dress with a shear pair of onyx nylons and of course – the perfect pair of boots I’d ever found. You know to this day, I’ve not been able to find boots like that they were gorgeous, 3-inch chunky heel that laced up three quarters of the way then hooked the rest, just above my shin, paired with my long freshly straightened brown hair it was truly perfect. I was ready! And, actually a little bit nervous, I mean, I was preparing for an event that literally hosted musicians from all over Canada, apart from a few International nominees.

The minute I had stepped through the grand entrance of the O’Keefe Centre I was surrounded by musicians, I’d listened to nonstop: Bare Naked Ladies, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Snow, Blue Rodeo, Rush, The Rankin Family, and Rosh Voisine – just to name a few. The theme that year was Carnival. It was fabulous, there were little acts occurring during the commercial break – it was a truly beautiful spectacle.  The only negative aspect to this was that we had been in the nose bleeds right at the very back but, nevertheless it was worth it. (The next year we were seated on the main floor – that was really trippy.) 


The reason for this long rant is to acknowledge, that was the year Rush was inaugurated into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.  Singer/Songwriters & Musicians are constantly busting their asses to get their music heard and deserve to be honoured in such a fashion. And, that was totally their time to be commemorated. I had, no words watching it live right in front of me as it was unfolding.

This memory came flooding to the forefront of my mind, when I heard the news regarding the death of Rush’s beloved drummer & primary lyricist Neil Peart yesterday. I honestly have no words; Rush was such an iconic band and now they are forever changed.  

R.I.P. Neil we’ll miss exposure to your work!!!

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