By Regina Sienra
Kaytranada, the electronic producer from Montreal, was the winner of the 2016 Polaris Music Prize for his album 99.9%. The gala featured performances by Andy Shauf, Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessy Lanza, U.S. Girls and White Lung. Buffy Sainte-Marie, winner of the 2015 edition, announced this year’s champion alongside CBC’s Tom Power and Amanda Parris.
The gala started with Vancouver’s Black Mountain performing “Mothers of The Sun”, opening track of their Polaris shortlisted album IV. Unlike past editions, the endorsements the bands and performers receive were made on video, not live. Endorsing Stephen McBean and co. was former hockey player Boyd Deveraux.
Up next was Jessy Lanza, who landed her second Polaris shortlist nomination after her debut, Pull My Hair Back, received the same honour in 2014. “I wish we could split the $50,000”, said Lanza when Power asked her who she hoped to see as the winner.
Both Basia Bulat and pop star Carly Rae Jepsen performed with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, but Bulat had an even more special guest: Fellow nominee Meghan Remy joined her as a backing vocalist, and switched roles when U.S. Girls took the stage at the end of the night.
Andy Shauf performed “To You” and “The Magician”. The Saskatchewan singer-songwriter was endorsed by Jeff Tweedy. “I hope he comes to Chicago and makes some music with me someday”, said the leader of Wilco. Another surprising endorsement was U.S. Girls’, who were championed by Iggy Pop.
Kaytranada and Grimes didn’t perform but attended the gala. PUP missed the ceremony since they are in the middle of an European tour, but sent their parents to the party, which led to the creation of one of the most popular topics of the evening: #PUPsParentsAtPolaris.
During the ceremony, the nominees for the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize were announced. This award celebrates the best Canadian albums released before the inception of the Polaris Prize. The voting is open now.
Relive the 2016 Polaris Music Prize gala below.