Culture

Making music, making history

Buffy Sainte-Marie takes home the Polaris Music Prize, one year after Tanya Tagaq was selected for the prestigious award

Veteran singer/songwriter and powerhouse Buffy Sainte-Marie walked away Monday night with a prestigious Canadian music award, chosen by music critics across the country.

The Polaris Prize is awarded every year to a critically acclaimed Canadian album; it’s not based on sales or number of plays on the radio or Spotify, but on artistic merit. Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood, a political, energetic record, filled with important messages arranged through beautiful sounds and beats and melodies, was selected as the winner from a shortlist of other noteworthy and beautiful albums, which had all been whittled down from an impressive longlist.

This year was Polaris’ 10th anniversary and the prize, and the process of getting to the awarding of it, has been criticized over the years as too “indie rock” and too white. Two Indigenous women winning back to back is historic, and proof of the talent, capacity and power of Indigenous women in Canada.

Sainte-Marie, 74, has won numerous awards in her years in music but Polaris is different, she's noted. The selection comes from a huge group of critics, writers and broadcasters in the music industry, and hands the winner a cash prize to assist in their artistic efforts, something that's useful to many bands and artists in Canada.

Watch Buffy Sainte-Marie perform "Carry It On" from Power in the Blood at the Polaris Prize Gala here: 

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