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2018 Polaris Music Prize Gala Review

By Phjoshua @thereviewsarein
2018 Polaris Music Prize Gala Review

The 2018 Polaris Music Prize Gala took over Toronto's historic Carlu on Monday night, with Jeremy Dutcher's Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa taking home the honoured award and $50,000 prize.

For the second year in a row, CBC Morning's Raina Douris hosted the gala event, attended by artists and industry insiders in celebration of Canadian music excellence. The night was packed with outstanding and memorable performances eight of 2018's short list nominees, plus a special stand-in performance by Toronto Girls Rock Camp act, Deep Vvaters for Alvvays.

2018 Polaris Music Prize Gala Review
2018 Polaris Music Prize Gala Review
But at the end of the night, it was Dutcher who stood tallest, proudest, and most celebrated. His indigenous language (Wolastoqey) album is a stand out example of Canadian history that predates any of the music or trends that we know now. Spoken by fewer than 100 people, Wolastoqey is a language that we wouldn't know at all without Dutcher, and his dedication and passion to create such an exceptional record and keep his language alive is commendable and then some.

Unlike most other award shows, the Polaris Music Prize gala spends most of the night focused on performances rather than acceptance speeches. And on Monday night, the performers made it clear that they all deserved not only their 2018 nomination but also the spotlight.

2018 Polaris Music Prize Gala Performers

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Deep Vvaters (for Alvvays)

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The performances, as we mentioned, were memorable. From Quebecois glam rocker Hubert Lenoir standing on a table, drinking a bottle of win, and exclaiming, "Fuck your American dreams. I am your French-Canadian nightmare!" to Snotty Nose Rez Kids and their masks, costumes and dancers - this was a show.

Weaves was first to take the stage, playing Wide Open, and they did an excellent job of kick-starting the night's celebrations. Blais followed, keeping the music going, and reminding everyone in the room and watching on the live stream that this wasn't going to be a night of the same music over and over again.

Hubert followed in his white robe, and then Deep Vvaters stood in for Alvvays and played Undertow. This collection of four young women who are clearly headed in the right direction. And while we can't predict the future, we wouldn't be surprised to hear a lot more from Gabi, Emma, Isabel, and Julia in the future.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids brought their hip-hop excellence to the stage next, with their dancers and hand drums. And U.S. Girls came after, with a 12-piece choir backing Meghan Remy through acapella performances of Poem and Pearly Gates.

The night's big winner (though he didn't know it yet) Jeremy Dutcher, came next and absolutely lit things up with a four-song medley from Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. His charisma and energy were tangible, and his performance only made his win feel more deserved.

In the second to last nominee performance slot, Pierre Kwenders took the stage and captivated the audience in the room and online with a mini-set of songs from MAKANDA At The End Of Space, The Beginning Of Time. And that left Partners as the last (but not least) nominee performance of the night. It's not always easy to go first, and it's not always easy to go last, but Partner made it look like it was nothing as they ripped through Creature In The Sun and Big Gay Hands!

At the end of the night, when the only thing left to do was announce the winner, Lido Pimienta made it happen. The 2017 honoree for La Papessa did the honours, calling on Jeremy Dutcher from the Tobique First Nation and crowning him the 2018 winner.

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During his acceptance speech, Dutcher took the opportunity to make a statement that needs to be heard by Canadians from coast-to-coast in music and in our day-to-day lives...

"Canada, you are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance," he said, "Are you ready to hear the truths that need to be told? Are you ready to see the things that need to be seen?"

Ready or not, it's happening and we're here for it!

Congratulations to Jeremy Dutcher and all of the 2018 Polaris Music Prize nominees.

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2018 Polaris Music Prize Short List Nominees

Alvvays - Antisocialites
Jean-Michel Blais - Dans ma main
Daniel Caesar - Freudian
Jeremy Dutcher - Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa
Pierre Kwenders - MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time
Hubert Lenoir - Darlène
Partner - In Search Of Lost Time
Snotty Nose Rez Kids - The Average Savage
U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited
Weaves - Wide Open


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