Mustafa, The OBGMs, Nyssa land on Polaris Prize long list

These 40 albums will be cut down to 10 for the short list in the next round judging

The Polaris Music Prize has announced the 2021 long list.

Presented by Canada Council for the Arts, a panel of 199 judges (made up of music journalists, broadcasters, and bloggers from across Canada) have decided who has made the next round for deliberation in search for the Polaris Music Prize Winner. The list has been narrowed down from 204 contenders to 40. 

Toronto acts that made the list include recent NOW cover stars Mustafa and The OBGMs, Nyssa, Rochelle Jordan, DijahSB, LAL, The Weather Station, Clairmont the Second, Dorothea Paas, Fiver and TOBi.

These 40 albums will then be cut down to 10 in the next round of judging for the short list. Albums in this group will be announced in July in a two-hour special on CBC Music.

A few weeks of deliberation after the short list is released, the top Polaris Music Prize winner will be announced. The album which takes the number-one spot will receive $50,000 and the title of Canadian Album of the Year. The runner-ups (the nine other artists on the Short List) will receive $3,000 each courtesy of Slaight Music.

“In these challenging times, art, now more than ever, has a vital role to play in our collective healing and recovery,” said Carolyn Warren, director general of the Arts Granting Programs Division of the Canada Council for the Arts in a press release for the list. “The power of art endures, and music is an essential need. The Canada Council for the Arts is proud to associate itself with the Polaris Prize in presenting innovative and creative musical works that celebrate the soundtrack of this current moment.” 

Last year’s winner was Montreal-based rapper Backxwash. Other notable winners have included Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015), Feist (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), and Caribou (2008). 

The full 2021 Polaris Music Prize long list:

Art Bergmann – Late Stage Empire Dementia

Bernice – Eau De Bonjourno

The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson – Theory of Ice


Cadence Weapon – Parallel World

Charlotte Cardin – Phoenix

CFCF – memoryland

Clairmont The Second – IT’S NOT HOW IT SOUNDS

Helena Deland – Someone New

DijahSB – Head Above The Waters

Kathleen Edwards – Total Freedom

Dominique Fils-Aimé – Three Little Words

Fiver with the Atlantic School of Spontaneous Composition – Fiver with the Atlantic School of Spontaneous Composition

Thanya Iyer – KIND

Yves Jarvis – Sundry Rock Song Stock

Rochelle Jordan – Play With the Changes

LAL – Meteors Could Come Down

Daniel Lanois – Heavy Sun

Thierry Larose – Cantalou

Russell Louder – Humor

Elliot Maginot – Easy Morning

Mustafa – When Smoke Rises

Laura Niquay – Waska Matisiwin

Nyssa – Girls Like Me

The OBGMs – The Ends

Dorothea Paas – Anything Can’t Happen

Klô Pelgag – Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs 

Savannah Ré – Opia

Allison Russell – Outside Child

Julien Sagot – Sagot

Sargeant X Comrade – Magic Radio

Shabason, Krgovich & Harris – Philadelphia

Yu Su – Yellow River Blue

Julian Taylor – The Ridge

TEKE::TEKE – Shirushi


Vagina Witchcraft – Vagina Witchcraft

The Weather Station – Ignorance

Zoon – Bleached Wavves

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.


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