Neil Young, Alanis Morissette & Broken Social Scene Among Polaris Heritage Prize Winners

Neil Young
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Neil Young photographed on Sept. 22, 1969 in Los Angeles. 

Rush, Kid Koala, Bruce Cockburn, Jean-Pierre Ferland and Dream Warriors were also honored.

Classic albums by eight Canadian artists -- Rush, Alanis Morissette, Neil Young, Kid Koala, Broken Social Scene, Bruce Cockburn, Jean-Pierre Ferland and Dream Warriors -- have won the 2018 Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize.

The titles were honored based on time period categories 1960-1975, 1976-1985, 1986-1995 and 1996-2005, selecting one for each by public vote and one by jury vote.

The awards were created to honor albums that might have been nominated for, or possibly won, the esteemed Polaris Music Prize if it had existed before 2006.

The Polaris Music Prize, given annually to the best Canadian album, was presented last month to Jeremy Dutcher for his contemporary yet historical Indigenous-language work, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Like that award, albums are selected based on artistic merit without regards to sales or affiliations.

For the Heritage Prize, the four short lists were curated by a jury of music historians and music media. The international voting public and a small pool of the music media each vote on four albums for each of the time periods. The public can vote once per day.

The public voted on the pre-selected 10-title short-list between Sept. 17 and Oct. 18. Albums that did not win remain on the short lists for the 2019 Heritage Prize and the jury then goes through the voting process again to add two additional records for each era.

The 2018 winners are:

Public: Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Jury: Jean-Pierre Ferland - Jaune

1976 – 1985
Public: Rush - 2112
Jury: Bruce Cockburn – Stealing Fire

Public: Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
Jury: Dream Warriors – And Now the Legacy Begins

Public: Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Jury: Kid Koala - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is the second time an album by Neil Young and Rush has been awarded what Polaris Music Prize calls the "Heritage Prize designation."

The jury — consisting of 11-members of the music media (of which Billboard was a part this year) — emailed their arguments and met or were on conference calls on two occasions to discuss the four short-lists and then voted for their No 1 and 2 picks.

Polaris Music Prize tabulated the final votes. Depending on the final public vote, if the same album came out on top, the second choice would be the jury pick.

"Our Heritage Prize jurors listened to dozens of classic Canadian albums and tried to imagine which ones would have made it onto a short list in the four pre-Polaris eras," said Mary Dickie, the Heritage Prize jury foreperson, in a statement. "They weighed innovation, musicianship, lasting influence and general brilliance and came up with this list of outstanding albums that reflect the remarkable diversity and genius of Canadian musicians. Thanks to all the winners for your timeless work."

The inaugural year for the Slaight Family Heritage Prize in 2015 had different time periods and only the public voted. Winners were: Joni Mitchell's Blue for '60s/'70s, Cowboy Junkies' The Trinity Session for the '80s, Sloan's Twice Removed for the '90s and Peaches' The Teaches of Peaches for the '00s.

In 2016, there were some adjustments to the process. The eras were all changed, a media jury was added to make its own selections and the short-list of five titles per period was doubled to 10. Polaris Music Prize founder Steve Jordan told Billboard at the time that "Media was added to recognize, potentially, less popular or commercially successful records among the nominees, although they're not instructed explicitly to do so."

Heritage Prize designated albums are commemorated with limited edition silk-screen posters commissioned by visual artists who've been inspired by these records. Curated by graphic design studio The Office of Gilbert Li, a small number of these Heritage Prize posters are made available for public sale each year.

Four episodes of the Polaris Podcast will also delve into the significance of these eight Heritage Prize-winning albums.


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