Behold, the Polaris Music Prize short list

July 17, 2017

This is the one that really counts, folks—the 10 albums from which a bright and shining winner will be chosen to represent the apex of Canada’s musical artistry. After a month or so of further deliberating, the Polaris jury (which I should mention I am a part of, in the interest of full disclosure) sent in their votes from the already whittled-down long list, and last Thursday we found out which records the grand jury will argue about handing the prize to, alone, in a small room at the Carlu in Toronto this September.

The short list is bound to create a lot more of a hullabaloo than the long list, with people maybe being disappointed that their picks didn’t quite tickle the fancy of enough jurors. Still, the statistics with this year’s long list, as always, are interesting. And, as always, the short list nominees are situated overwhelmingly in Ontario and Quebec: in fact, it’s only Lisa LeBlanc (who hails from New Brunswick) and Tanya Tagaq (who’s been a bit of a nomad, living everywhere from Brandon, MB to Halifax, NS) who aren’t 100% associated with those provinces. And LeBlanc and Tagaq currently live in Montreal and Toronto, respectively, anyway.

Leonard Cohen is the first artist to be nominated posthumously, which has fired up some conversation about the monetary portion of the prize (a not-slight $50K) and what might happen to that if Cohen were to win. Gord Downie also makes his first appearance on the short list, not as a part of The Tragically Hip but with his own solo record, Secret Path. And there’s a bevy of other newcomers, including Weaves, Lido Pimienta, Leif Vollebeck, and the previously mentioned LeBlanc. The prize will be handed out at the Polaris gala at the Carlu on September 18. That gives you more than two months to air your grievances or celebrate your favourite band’s nomination. Who should’ve made the list? Who shouldn’t have?

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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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