Ten Canadian musicians and bands will compete for the Polaris Music Prize tonight.
The $50,000 award for the year’s best Canadian album will be handed out during a concert event held at Toronto’s Massey Hall.
Among the contenders is Calgary-raised pop singer-songwriter Leslie Feist, Toronto R&B singer Daniel Caesar and Oji-Cree alternative soul artist Aysanabee.
Other nominees include Haitian-Canadian artist Gayance, Winnipeg’s Begonia and Nigerian-Canadian Debby Friday.
Rounding out the list is British Columbia native Dan Mangan, Toronto rock band the Sadies, B.C. hip hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Prince Edward Island indie pop band Alvvays.
The Polaris prize names the best Canadian album of the previous year — irrespective of genre or sales — as chosen by a group of journalists, broadcasters and music bloggers.
Last year, the Polaris went to Congolese-Canadian Pierre Kwenders for his third album “Jose Louis and the Paradox Of Love.”
This year’s Polaris nominees are eclectic, as always, spanning sounds and artists that lean toward both the mainstream and the underground.
Feist’s “Multitudes” is an answer to her experience of motherhood, written early in the COVID-19 pandemic, while Caesar built on his chart-topping appearance on Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” with his third album “Never Enough,” featuring collaborations with Toronto’s Mustafa, Ty Dolla $ign and others.
Aysanabee’s debut “Watin,” named after his grandfather, was inspired by daily phone conversations with his elder during the pandemic. Some of the recordings are featured on the album.
Nigerian-Canadian genre-bender Debby Friday incorporated her past industrial sound with a more soulful touch on her debut full-length record “Good Luck,” while Haitian-Canadian artist Gayance landed on the list for her electronic-influenced album “Mascarade.”
Hip hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids earned their fourth Polaris nomination with “I’m Good, HBU?” while Winnipeg’s Begonia was selected for her second album “Powder Blue.”
Rounding out the list is Mangan’s “Being Somewhere,” Toronto-based rock band the Sadies’ “Colder Streams” and Prince Edward Island indie pop band Alvvays’ latest “Blue Rev.”
Several changes are being introduced at this year’s Polaris.
The show used to broadcast live on CBC Gem from the CARLU event space in Toronto, which held up to 1,500 people. But organizers have upgraded to the larger Massey venue which allows them to sell more tickets.
Other changes have taken some of the shine off the event. The Polaris will no longer give $3,000 cash prizes to each of the short-listed artists.
And organizers say this year’s Polaris will not stream live in its entirety on CBC Gem, as it has in recent years.
However, clips of the show will be uploaded to CBC’s social media sites throughout the night. A compilation of highlights will be broadcast on “CBC Music Live” which airs Friday on the FM station CBC Music.