And the Winner of the 2017 Polaris Music Prize Is…

One of the fantastic things about the Polaris Music Prize is that you never, ever know what the Grand Jury will name the best Canadian album of the year. Would it go to a well-known name like Leonard Cohen or Gord Downie? Maybe to a perennial indie favourite like Feist or Tanya Tagaq? What about a Francophone artist little known outside of Quebec? Or will the winner be someone unknown to most Canadians?

This year, the winner is Lido Pimienta and her album, La Papessa.  I know, I know. Who? And she sings in Spanish?

Pimienta was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and move to Canada about a decade ago. She soon made friends with the guys in A Tribe Called Red and started releasing music totally independently, beginning with a record called Color in 2010.

La Papessa, which translates as “The Priestess,” was issued without the help of a publicist or record label when it came out last year.

What’s it sound like? It’s a fascinating mix of styles: electronic, Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, Latin.  Here:  just listen.

Pimienta’s win further contributes to the diversity of past Polaris Prize recipients over the last few years. In 2016, the winner was Haitian-Canadian DJ, Kaytranada, who followed two Indigenous performers, Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015) and Tanya Tagaq (2014). That means of the twelve Polaris Prizes given out, a third have gone to people of colour.




Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “And the Winner of the 2017 Polaris Music Prize Is…

  • September 19, 2017 at 8:19 am

    But of course, no one mentions her angrily dropping F-bombs at the sound tech after she won the award. Oddly enough, it’s been edited out of all the YouTube videos of the entire broadcast during the wee hours of the morning


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