In grand fashion, the Polaris Prize has crowned classically trained opera tenor Jeremy Dutcher as this year’s winner at last nights Music Prize gala in Toronto.
The prize was awarded for Dutcher’s 2017 album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, and includes a $70,000 cash prize.
The album offers a unique blend of music inspired by century-old archival field recordings of Indigenous peoples living near the St. John (Wolastoq) River basin. Described as a hybrid of musical aesthetics, including classical, contemporary, traditional, and jazz, the project, who took five years to complete. The process had Dutcher meticulously transcribe 100-year old Wolastoq songs which he sought re-introduce to the world. These songs were at one time banned by the Canadian government’s prejudicial Indian Act from 1876.
The Toronto-based First Nations musician has been a featured soloist with the Mississauga Chamber Choir, Soundstreams Canada. He won Opera New Brunswick’s Young Artist Award in 2012 and the Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal Music Award. Dutcher studied classical music at Dalhousie University and spent time learning from Passamaquoddy musician Maggie Paul.
The 2018 Polaris Prize shortlist artists included:
Hubert Lenoir – Darlène:
Jean-Michel Blais – Dans Ma Main
Jeremy Dutcher – Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa
Alvvays – Antisocialites
Daniel Caesar – Freudian
Pierre Kwenders – MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time
Partner – In Search of Lost Time
Snotty Nose Rez Kids – The Average Savage
U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
Weaves – Wide Open
Previous winners are:
Lido Pimienta – La Papessa (2017)
Kaytranada – 99.9% (2016)
Buffy Sainte-Marie – Power in the Blood (2015)
Tanya Tagaq – Animism (2014)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (2013)
Feist – Metals (2012)
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2011)
Karkwa – Les Chemins de verre (2010)
Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life (2009)
Caribou – Andorra (2008)
Patrick Watson – Close to Paradise (2007)
Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) – He Poos Clouds (2006)