Montreal’s Patrick Watson has been selected as winner of the second annual Polaris Music Prize in a gala ceremony held tonight at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre. As recipient of Album of the Year, the nationally-acclaimed, singer-songwriter wins $20,000, the richest purse for a full-length album in Canada.
“Music's not a competition so this is a bit strange, but it's such an honour. I'm very happy to accept this, very happy.”
Patrick Watson is a Montreal-based art-rock quartet that carries the name of its chief songwriter and frontman. Their debut on Secret City Records, Close to Paradise, has been one of Canada’s biggest critical and commercial successes since its release in September 2006, and this fall sees release worldwide. In addition to their Polaris Prize nomination, in one short year Patrick Watson has been nominated for a Juno Award (Best New Artist); won three prestigious GAMIQ awards as an independent Quebec artist (Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Best Indie-Pop Album), and Close to Paradise is about to go gold in Canada.
There were more than 400 people in attendance at the gala, among them key players in the Canadian music, media and corporate worlds. They were treated to passionate performances by New Brunswick’s Julie Doiron; Secret City labelmates and fellow Montréalers Miracle Fortress and Patrick Watson; Halifax’s Joel Plaskett Emergency; Montréal’s The Besnard Lakes and Chad VanGaalen.
The winner for Album of the Year was selected by the 11-member gala grand jury, in turn chosen from more than 170 members of the larger jury comprised of music journalists and broadcasters. Through a process of winnowing down, they voted on, then determined the best Canadian album released between June 1, 2006 and May 31, 2007. The grand jury was sequestered in the Phoenix parlour while the event was taking place. Liisa Ladouceur, who oversees the voting for Polaris, talked about the intensity of the process.
“As always, the jury had a real challenge deciding the ultimate winner of the prize. Every single one of the 10 shortlist nominees had their champion amongst the Grand Jury. In the end it came down to Patrick Watson. The jury felt he made a record that truly pulled you inside his world. It hit you emotionally. Close To Paradise was the discovery of 2007. Grand Jury members rallied this record; an album that some may not have heard had the Polaris not drawn attention to it on a national level.”
The 11-member gala grand jury are: Stuart Berman from Eye Weekly in Toronto; Laurie Brown from CBC Radio 2; Ben Conoley from here magazine in Fredericton; Mike Doherty of the National Post in Toronto; Stephanie Domet from CBC Radio 1 in Halifax; T'Cha Dunlevy of the Montreal Gazette; Robert Everett-Green from the Globe and Mail’s Toronto bureau; Cam Lindsay of Exclaim! in Toronto; Stéphane Martel from the Montreal weekly VOIR; Sandra Sperounes of the Edmonton Journal; and John Sekerka from the Ottawa XPress,
Ten albums were shortlisted for the 2007 Polaris Prize. In alphabetical order, they are:
Arcade Fire Neon Bible
The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
The Dears Gang of Losers
Julie Doiron Woke Myself Up
Feist The Reminder
Junior Boys So This Is Goodbye
Miracle Fortress Five Roses
Joel Plaskett Emergency Ashtray Rock
Chad VanGaalen Skelliconnection
Patrick Watson Close To Paradise
Once again this year, Rogers was the co-presenting sponsor for the Polaris Music Prize Gala. “At Rogers we understand the power of music in the lives of Canadian youth and young adults as a means of self expression and fueling friendships. We are pleased to be supporting the Polaris Music Prize for the second year, so even more Canadians can experience the work of Canada’s most talented musicians,” says Sanae Takahashi, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, Rogers Wireless.
The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) was the other co-sponsor of the gala. “New and emerging artists are the lifeblood of our business,” says Graham Henderson, President of CRIA. “That is why we have always invested so heavily in new talent and have supported the Polaris Music Prize from the beginning.”
About the Polaris Music Prize
The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours, celebrates and rewards creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing and marketing the albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected music critics. For further information, including rules, jury and sponsors, please visit www.polarismusicprize.ca .