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B.C. TikTok sensation JESSIA is Canada’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Homegrown Ucluelet singer-songwriter’s wins her first Juno, celebrates with European tour
JESSIA reacts after winning Breakthrough Artist of the Year presented by the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez and singer-songwriter Donovan Woods at the 51st annual Juno Awards in Toronto on May 15. (CARAS/The JUNO Awards photo)

JESSIA’s jaw dropped dramatically as her name was read aloud at the Juno Awards on May 15 at Budweiser Stage in Toronto.

Her debut single, ‘I’m not Pretty’ played as she made her way to the stage in a dazzling bubble gum pink Birger Christensen dress with matching jacket.

“This is a lot heavier than I thought,” she says as she clutches her trophy for ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year’. She thanked her team, her producer Elijah Woods, and her family for their support.

“Thank you so much to my label, to Republic Records, to Ryan Tedder, but mostly thank you so much to you guys. This is such a dream come true,” JESSIA bellowed to her fans.

This is the homegrown Ucluelet singer-songwriter’s first Juno win. JESSIA (born Jessika Harling) was also a first-time nominee for ‘Single of the Year’, ‘Pop Album of the Year’ and the ‘TikTok Juno Fan Choice Award’. ‘I’m not Pretty’ has achieved 271 million global streams to date and 13 million-plus video views. JESSIA was Billboard’s “Chartbreaker” for the month of June, spent 13 consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard Canada’s Emerging Artists chart in 2021, and was the eighth most viewed Canadian artist on TikTok.

JESSIA’s mom Beth Harling was her date for Canada’s biggest night in music. Harling, a music teacher at the Ucluelet Elementary School, said she was welcomed back to class with a giant ‘Congratulations!’ banner and a group of kindergarten kids serenaded her with ‘I’m Not Pretty’ from the playground.

“I always knew she had it in her. From a very young age she showed her talent. The next one will be to get a Grammy,” said Harling five days after the Juno Awards from her music classroom.

“Now I can use this with the kids, you know? If you work really hard, that can be you. It’s an awesome lesson,” she went on to say. “All of her music comes from the heart. ‘Next Time’ will bring you to tears. It’s so intense.”

JESSIA’s mom Beth Harling, a Ucluelet Elementary School music teacher, beams beside the banner she received after returning from the Juno Awards. (Nora O’Malley photo)

A post-Juno win interview with JESSIA is a little tricky to line-up, according to her publicist, since she is currently on tour in Europe with One Republic, performing to 20,000 plus crowds. Harling told Black Press Media that JESSIA didn’t even have a chance to attend the after party because she had to leave to catch a flight to Sweden.

“I danced until three in the morning though. I’m exhausted. I met Shawn Mendes,” said Harling, noting that she wore a black pant suit and a shawl with silver feathers. “I kind of wanted to bring a feel of the West Coast without being too intense.”

Harling was unsure when her daughter would make it home to Ucluelet to celebrate her win with the community.

“Her life is week by week,” said Harling.

JESSIA wasn’t the only Vancouver Island star to grace the 2022 Juno stage; Port Alberni’s Lauren Spencer-Smith was a presenter and also sang her platinum single ‘Fingers Crossed’.

RELATED: West Coast grad JESSIA now a rising Canadian pop star

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