Denise Donlon will receive 2018 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award

Photo: Don Dixon
January 25, 2018

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) will honour industry veteran Denise Donlon at the 2018 JUNO Awards with the 2018 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, for her lifelong commitment to Canadian Music. The Award recognizes industry leaders who have greatly contributed to the development of the Canadian music industry. Named after Canadian music publisher Walt Grealis, the honour will be presented at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards Presented by SOCAN, on March 24, 2018, at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
With a career spanning close to 40 years, Donlon rose through the ranks at MuchMusic, where she helped transform the cultural landscape as host, producer, Director of Programming, and ultimately, Vice President and General Manager. After that, she became the first female president of Sony Music Canada, where she worked alongside the likes of Céline Dion and Leonard Cohen. Her love of Canadian culture culminated when she assumed the mantle of Executive Director, then General Manager, of CBC/Radio-Canada English Radio.
She chronicled her journey in a memoir, Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances). Donlon’s commitment to Canadian broadcasting has earned her countless accolades over the years, including two Gemini Awards, Canadian Women in Communications’ Woman of the Year Award, and an induction into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. The Order of Canada also inducted Donlon as a member.

She’s also fiercely devoted to humanitarian efforts, and has served many charitable initiatives over the years, including War Child Canada, MusiCounts, Waterkeepers, Live 8 and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. Donlon contributed to the Clinton Global Initiative as an event producer, raising more than $21 million in one night. She’s earned the Outstanding Achievement Award from Women in Film and Television Toronto; the Humanitarian Spirit Award at Canadian Music Week; the title of Broadcast Executive of the Year three consecutive times. Donlon has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Powerful Women, and has won The Rosalie Award at CMW. She’s also earned the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit, has two honourary Doctorates, and has been named Woman of Vision from Wired Women.
“Denise’s exceptional business savvy and artistic excellence have made her a woman to admire, watch and learn from, both within and outside the music industry,” said Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards and MusiCounts. “As a talented and fearless leader, whose deep understanding of the media landscape has resulted in groundbreaking Canadian programming, Denise has helped advance the careers of so many of this country’s dynamic musicians and artists.”
“When Allan called to tell me of this wonderful recognition, I almost drove off the road.” said Donlon. “I consider myself extremely lucky to have been involved in the evolution of this creative industry. Thank you to CARAS, and all of the incredibly talented artists and executives with whom I’ve been honoured to work. Canada is truly an Arts Nation. Long may we thrive.”