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.
A longstanding Stingray partner, Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction. A select panel of music critics judges and awards the Prize to the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit without regard to genre, sales history or label affiliation.
This year’s shortlisted albums were:
- Dominique Fils-Aimé Stay Tuned!
- Elisapie The Ballad of the Runaway Girl
- FET.NAT Le Mal
- Haviah Mighty 13th Floor
- Jessie Reyez Being Human In Public
- Les Louanges La nuit est une panthère
- Marie Davidson Working Class Woman
- PUP Morbid Stuff
- Shad A Short Story About A War
- Snotty Nose Rez Kids Trapline
From eccentric punk to a minimalistic DJ set, from rap to sensual intimate grooves, each performer brought their own unique musical and visual universe, showcasing how diverse Canadian music is, with indigenous representation still going strong. But this year, solo women artists stole the spotlight. During the gala breaks, the 400 guests watched a Rising Stars program video in anticipation of the announcement of the long-awaited winner.
It was last year’s winner, Jeremy Dutcher, who had the honour of announcing his Polaris Music Prize winning successor. Haviah Mighty was selected by a 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, as the Canadian album of the year. The Brampton MC is the first Black woman and first hip-hop artist to win the Canadian music prize for her album 13th Floor, and who’s victory came with a $50,000 monetary reward. Her performance was an energetic medley of songs that showed off her musical versatility.
Past winners include 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).
About the winner:
Haviah Mighty didn’t need to change her birth name when she decided to dedicate her career to music. In fact, Mighty couldn’t be more accurate a word to describe the 26-year-old artist, named one of XXL’s 15 Toronto Rappers You Should Know in 2019. Raised in a musical household in Brampton, Ontario, Mighty started singing at the age of four, rapping at 11, and producing at 15.
Haviah Mighty broke out as the youngest member of the Toronto-based hip-hop ensemble and former Stingray Rising Stars winners The Sorority in 2016.
Haviah has been releasing music independently since 2009, but it was her project, Flower City (2017), that propelled her solo career into further success. In 2018, Mighty’s track “Vámonos” appeared on HBO’s hit series, Insecure. That same year, Mighty was declared winner of the prestigious 2018/2019 Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class.
Haviah’s explosive live show, filled with in-your-face intensity and her fast, technical flows, has also quickly developed her reputation as one to keep an eye on, earning her opening slots for acclaimed artists like Sheck Wes, Nelly, Desiigner, Kranium, A Tribe Called Red, and Snoop Dogg.
To date, Mighty recently released 13th Floor, her most fully-realized project to date. Garnering overwhelming praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Hot New Hip Hop, and Lyrical Lemonade to name a few, Haviah continues to carve out spaces that boldly defy gendered expectations for women in hip-hop.
You can hear Haviah Mighty’s music on Stingray Music’s following channels:
- Hip-Hop, EH!
- Today’s Canadian Hip-Hop
- Polaris 2019: Long List Nominees
- Polaris 2006-2019: Shortlist Nominees
- Canadian Indie
- Laurence Nerbonne Celebrity Channel