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Haviah Mighty's '13th Floor' Wins 2019 Polaris Music Prize

Haviah Mighty has won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for the album 13th Floor.

“For me, the 13th Floor is something that we remove from our reality because it is something that we don’t understand and therefore we dismiss it,” said Haviah Mighty. “This is very parallel to so many of the experiences that I speak on, on this album. I’m in a room with so many different people from so many different walks of life who have acknowledged that this is something they feel is important. These people don’t necessarily share the narratives that I do, or the walks of life that I have, and yet, here we are, finally on what I believe is the 13th floor. This is the moment of resurgence where the dismissal that has existed is now being removed, and the discussion is being had. I’m so grateful that the people around me push me to be brave enough to speak my truth and to have it be acknowledged in this way.”

The Prize, which was presented by CBC Music, goes to the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit without regard to genre, sales history, or label affiliation. It was determined by a grand jury of 11 music media professionals drawn from the greater Polaris jury pool of 199 writers, editors, broadcasters, DJs, and personalities from across the country.

Haviah Mighty’s victory came with a $50,000 monetary reward. The nine other Short List nominees each received $3,000 courtesy of Slaight Music.

Held at the historic Carlu in downtown Toronto, the evening featured performances by nine of the 10 Polaris nominees. These included Marie Davidson, Elisapie, FET.NAT, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Les Louanges, Haviah Mighty, PUP, Shad and Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Jessie Reyez was also in attendance. CBC Music’s Raina Douris was the host for the gala. Re-watch the Polaris Music Prize gala performances and winner announcement HERE.

The 2019 Polaris Short List was:

Marie Davidson - Working Class Woman
Elisapie - The Ballad of the Runaway Girl
FET.NAT - Le Mal
Dominique Fils-Aimé - Stay Tuned!
Les Louanges - La nuit est une panthère
Haviah Mighty - 13th Floor
PUP - Morbid Stuff
Jessie Reyez - Being Human In Public
Shad - A Short Story About A War
Snotty Nose Rez Kids - Trapline

The Grand Jury who decided the winner included Jacques Boivin (ecoutedonc.ca), Stephen Cooke (Chronicle Herald), Erin MacLeod (Freelance Journalist), Christine McAvoy (3AM Revelations), Max Mertens (Freelance Journalist), Nneka Nnagbo (Ottawa Beat & Melted Magazine), Ryan B. Patrick (Exclaim!), Chantal Rondeau (Indigenous Today), Fanny St-Amand (Belle et Bum), Richard Trapunski (NOW Magazine) and Melissa Vincent (A.Side).

“This year’s Grand Jury were exceptionally thorough in their listening and discussion, changing their opinions and taking on new points of view in response to their fellow jurors’ passionate arguments about the meaning of Canadian musical art in 2019,” said Polaris jury foreperson Katherine Duncan. “Their commitment, dedication and heartfelt debate is inspiring to share. It's with great pleasure that we congratulate the winner of the 2019 Polaris Music Prize!”

The past winners of the Prize are: Jeremy Dutcher (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).

For more information, go to www.polarismusicprize.ca.

[Photo of Haviah Mighty at the Polaris gala by Dustin Rabin]

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.