With the 43rd annual JUNO Awards held in Winnipeg during the last week of March, TD Music invited local TD Music Ambassador Bernard Phanthavong to take in the celebration of Canadian music. Bernard works as Manager of Customer Service at the TD branch at Notre Dame and Sherbrook, and volunteers his time to help spread word of TD’s music initiatives to fellow employees and customers alike. Deeply passionate about music, Bernard is a member of the Winnipeg Glee Club, and is president and co-founder of Flying Lion Dance Troupe, which performs a blend of traditional Chinese lion dance and modern acrobatics, complete with costumes and live music. This is his JUNO story.

Thumb untitled24TD Music Ambassador Bernard Phanthavong

My JUNO journey began on March 27, with an invitation to accompany some members of our TD executive team and members of MusiCounts, the music education charity associated with CARAS (The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), which also produces the JUNO Awards.

 Thumb untitled24TD and MusiCounts visit Status4

Together, we went on site visits to Status4 and Broadway Neighborhood Hip Hop Academy, two local recipients of the 2013 MusiCounts TD Community Music Grants. Each was granted $25,000, which was used to purchase musical instruments and recording equipment for their many music programs. 

It was amazing to be introduced to these community projects that help battle crime and violence in the area by providing safe places for young people to express themselves through music. Status4’s “Be Yourself and Free Yourself” program really resonated with me; it can truly assist youth to respect themselves and, in turn, learn to respect others. The talented youth at the Hip Hop Academy showcased skills both vocally and in music production. They are stars in our own neighborhood, and possibly future JUNO Award winners! 

The next stop in my JUNO Week was to the MusiCounts Band Aid Celebration on Friday March 28. I joined Allan Reid, Director of MusiCounts, and special guest performers. On the car ride back, I was moved by many powerful stories told by Mr. Reid about the impact that the MusiCounts TD Community Music Grants have had on communities across Canada. I could have listened for hours, and still get goose bumps about the positive influence music has had on the lives of many Canadian youth. 

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My Friday ended at JUNOfest [presented by SiriusXM], inside the West End Cultural Centre, the JUNOfest venue sponsored by TD that night. I gave a warm. Winnipeg welcome to Waterloo, Ontario’s Patti McKague and Paul Moser, winners of the TD Ultimate JUNO Awards Experience. They were enjoying the great music, and were ecstatic when I revealed that TD had arranged a special meet-and-greet with musicians that evening.

Thumb untitled24Panicland acoustic set in the TD Music Green Room

On Saturday, I relaxed during the day in the TD Music Green Room where there were live performances, including kids from Status4 who were so cute singing a touching version of “Imagine.” Winnipeg musicians Panicland played a number to kick off their acoustic Western Canada tour, while JRDN [2014 JUNO Award winner for R&B/Soul Recording Of The Year] also performed a few acoustic numbers. 

My next stop was the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards. I walked along the Green Carpet with TD executives, and posed for photos taken by a paparazzi-like group of photographers. Now I know how celebrities feel! We all enjoyed a lovely dinner, and strong live performances.

Thumb untitled24 Bernard at the JUNO Awards Broadcast event

Sunday started off with a special dress rehearsal opportunity to see the magic that happens behind the scenes for the big JUNO Awards broadcast event. I was literally two feet away from the JUNO Awards broadcast hosts, and many other JUNO performers. The actual evening broadcast experience was full of live energy as the crowd grew, and filled the seats. Words cannot fully describe the vibe at the MTS Centre during all of the performances and awarding of JUNOS. It was electric. I’m truly grateful to have these memories, and to share my passion for music. Thank you TD for giving me my own Ultimate JUNO Awards Music Ambassador Experience!