Album titles by The Tragically Hip, The Band, Gordon Lightfoot, Feist, Glenn Gould, Eric’s Trip, k-os and Harmonium have been named Polaris Heritage Prize winners for 2017. The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie died on Oct. 17 after a public battle with brain cancer.
For the prize, the Canadian voting public and a small pool of music media each selected four albums, one from each of the following time periods: 1960-1975; 1976-1985; 1986-1995; and 1996-2005.
The Slaight Family Heritage Prize was created to honor albums that might have been considered or won the Polaris Music Prize if it had been in existence at the time. The Polaris Music Prize launched in 2006. Like that award, albums are selected based on artistic merit, without regards to sales or affiliations.
The 2017 winners are:
1960-1975: public: Gordon Lightfoot — Lightfoot!; jury: The Band — The Band.
1976-1985: public: Harmonium — L’Heptade; jury: Glenn Gould — Bach: The Goldberg Variations.
1986-1995: public: The Tragically Hip — Fully Completely; jury: Eric’s Trip — Love Tara.
1996-2005: public: Feist — Let It Die; jury: k-os — Joyful Rebellion.
The public voted on the pre-selected 10-title short-list between Sept. 18 and Oct. 19. The jury — consisting of 11-members of the music media (of which Billboard was a part this year) — emailed their arguments and met on two occasions to discuss the four short-lists and then voted for their number 1 and 2 picks. Depending on the final public vote, if the same album came out on top, the second choice would be the jury pick.
The inaugural year for the Slaight Family Heritage Prize in 2015 had different time periods, and only the public voted. The winners were: Joni Mitchell’s Blue for the ’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.
“The new era made more sense as the first year we had one era that was only five years long,” Jordan tells Billboard. “Media was added to recognize, potentially, less popular or commercially successful records among the nominees, although they’re not instructed explicitly to do so.”
The 2016 winners were: 1960-1975, Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush (public), Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen (jury); 1976-1985, Rush’s Moving Pictures (public), Kate & Anna McGarrigle’s self-titled (jury), Blue Rodeo’s Five Days in July (jury), Mary Margaret O’Hara’s Miss America (jury); 1996-2005, Arcade Fire’s Funeral (public); Lhasa de Sela’s La Llorona (jury).
Heritage Prize designated albums are commemorated with limited edition silk-screen posters commissioned by visual artists who’ve been inspired by these records. A small number of these Heritage Prize posters are made available for public sale each year.