Haviah Mighty’s ’13th Floor’ Wins Canada’s Polaris Music Prize


Haviah Mighty’s 13th Floor was declared Canadian album of the year by the Polaris Music Prize grand jury tonight (Sept. 16) at the conclusion of the gala dinner at Toronto’s The Carlu. The award comes with a check for C$50,000 ($37,7500). 

Haviah Mighty was up against nine other short listed albums: Marie Davidson’s Working Class Woman; Elisapie’s The Ballad of the Runaway Girl; FET.NAT’s Le Mal; Dominique Fils-Aimé’s Stay Tuned!; Les Louanges’s La nuit est une panthère; PUP’s Morbid Stuff; Jessie Reyez’ Being Human In Public; Shad’s A Short Story About A War; and Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ Trapline (whose The Average Savage made last year’s short-list).  

Slaight Music gives C$3,000 ($2,265) to each of the nine runners up.

Nine of the 10 Polaris nominees performed on the night, with Reyez unable to hit the stage due to a herniated disc she sustained over the summer

As a thousand people — mostly industry, with a hundred tickets sold to the public — gathered for the gala, the winning album was determined on-site behind closed doors by an 11-member “grand jury” who debate each album’s merits and cast a series of private votes, the results of which even they didn’t know until it was announced.

The 10 titles included a range of styles, from Francophone to Indigenous, hip-hop, electronic and punk. 

Last year’s winner Jeremy Dutcher’s Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa — a Toronto-based First Nations tenor and pianist who created an accessible album in his native Wolastoq, or Maliseet, a language spoken today in Canada by an estimated 600 people — went on to win a Juno Award, Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys.

Dutcher was on hand to present the prize to Haviah Mighty.

Contenders for the prestigious Canada music award are determined by a national jury of music media from all provinces and genres (this year 199 people) instructed to vote for titles based solely on artistic merit, not sales or popularity. Throughout the year, these jurors suggest titles in a private group, where they comment and debate.  For the long-list, they submit their top 5 in order on a password-accessed page, then vote again for their top 5 out of the 40 titles to make up the final short list.

The official eligibility period for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize titles is from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019. (albums released between May 1 and May 31, 2018 that did not make the 2018 long list were also considered.)

Past winners are: Jeremy Dutcher’s Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (2018); Lido Pimienta (2017), Kaytranada (2016), Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015), Tanya Tagaq (2014), Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2013), Feist (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), Karkwa (2010), Fucked Up (2009), Caribou (2008), Patrick Watson (2007), and Final Fantasy / Owen Pallett (2006).