Joni Mitchell, Peaches, Cowboy Junkies and Sloan Awarded Canadian Heritage Prize

Joni Mitchell
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Joni Mitchell before being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame at the John Bassett Theatre at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on June 12, 2013.

The motley crew are now officially classic.

By Karen Bliss

Albums by Joni Mitchell, Cowboy Junkies, Sloan and Peaches have been chosen by the public as the inaugural winners of Canada’s Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize.

A five-titled short list per time period was initially selected by a jury of 25 people from the music media and industry before the lists were released to the public for them to vote online.

They chose: Blue by Joni Mitchell ('60s & '70s), The Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies ('80s), Twice Removed by Sloan (90s) and The Teaches of Peaches by Peaches ('00s, 2000-2005).

"This is the Polaris version of a hall of fame. As with the main Prize, we hope this award will lead to more discussion and discovery of timeless recorded art from our history," said Polaris founder and executive director Steve Jordan.

The press release does not mention how many votes came in for this first Heritage prize, but each year a new list for each time period will be generated. The award was designed to essentially answer the question, "Which album would’ve won if the Polaris Music Prize had existed back then?" The Polaris Music Prize is an annual prize started 10 years ago to honor the best Canadian album of the year with no consideration given to sales, genre or affiliation. That prize, however, is selected by a carefully curated juror of music media. Heritage takes the vote to the public in the final phase.

The original jury consisted of 25 people from current and past Polaris juries as well as former members of the Canadian music media and Canadian music historians. The public then voted between Sept. 18 and Oct. 5 to determine the winners.
"These first recipients are such an incredible mosaic of artists and recordings. My father Allan and the Slaight Family are very proud to be supporting this recognition and we look forward to honouring more inspirational recordings in the coming years," Slaight Communications president and CEO Gary Slaight said in a statement.
The programming team at Toronto’s Roy Thomson / Massey Hall will produce a tribute concert to the four winning albums in early 2016. Commemorative prints of each winning album will be made for the winners and available for sale to the public.