The Polaris Music Prize has announced albums from Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Main Source and Buffy Sainte-Marie have received 2020 Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize designation.
Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s influential, Keyboard Fantasies, new age/electronic album from 1986 was chosen in the Re:Sound-supported Heritage Prize public voting category, which ran this year from October 19 to November 9. Additionally, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s 1964 debut album, It’s My Way!, and Main Source’s ground-breaking 1991 hip-hop album, Breaking Atoms, both received Heritage designation by the 10-member Polaris Heritage Prize jury owing to a tie vote.
“Congratulations to these three winning artists. You’ve created important, memorable recordings that show the vast range of Canadian musical excellence. I have tremendous appreciation for the work that has gone into making these timeless albums,” said Gary Slaight, President and CEO of Slaight Communications.
The winners appreciated that these albums remain so relevant with the jury and the public decades after their initial releases.
“I am deeply grateful to be the recipient of the Polaris Heritage Prize for Keyboard Fantasies in 2020,” said Glenn-Copeland. “All those years ago when I wrote this music my wish was that I might be able to sell the few copies my little company was able to press. I could not have known that 35 years later this music would be reaching people worldwide, much less receiving this award. Thank you to those now gone and those still living who helped make the recording possible. Thank you to all of you who voted for this music. Thank you to those providing me with professional music business guidance at this time. And my special thanks to my dear wife Elizabeth Glenn-Copeland, my partner in all things. Her tireless efforts over many years helped make this award possible. Blessings one and all.”
“We would like to take a moment to thank Polaris for recognizing Main Source and the album Breaking Atoms,” said Main Source’s K-Cut. “We are very humbled and honoured to have put out something that has been recognized around the world. 2021 will be 30 years of Breaking Atoms and when we made this album we never expected two Canadian kids growing up in Queens, New York would be part of hip-hop culture and history. It’s amazing to see the influence Breaking Atoms has had on hip-hop heads new and old as well as breaking the careers of artists we know today (Nas). This album allowed us to bring the Main Source production and sound to the likes of Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, Shaq, A Tribe Called Quest, Ice-T, Maestro, MC Lyte, Pharoahe Monch and Common. Thanks to everyone who supported us to this day and who continue to support us.”
This year’s Heritage Prize jury had a daunting task trying to narrow down its selections.
“It’s not easy to pick one, two or three albums to be honoured with the Polaris Heritage Prize from the hundreds of brilliant, ground-breaking recordings released in Canada over the past 60 years,” said Heritage Jury foreperson Mary Dickie. “But I can’t think of any three that could represent the breadth and diversity of the talent in this country as well as these towering achievements. Congratulations to our winners!”
Heritage Prize juror, Andrea Warner, says Sainte-Marie’s debut was unique in its field.
“It’s My Way! is a powerful and peerless debut,” said Warner. “It was 1964 and while almost every other folk singer swaddled themselves in metaphor Buffy Sainte-Marie was writing incisive, compassionate calls to action. Side one begins with ‘Now That the Buffalo’s Gone’ reaches ‘Cod’ine’ and ends with ‘Universal Soldier.’ That’s just SIDE ONE. It’s My Way! is as remarkable now in 2020 as it was in 1964. It’s a collection of songs shaped by lived experience, injustice, and radical hope, and delivered as witness, survivor, and truth teller.”
The trio of new Heritage Prize-winning albums join D.O.A.’s Hardcore ‘81 and the Oscar Peterson Trio’s Night Train albums, which received their designation in 2019. Other past Heritage Prize winners include the likes of Arcade Fire, Blue Rodeo, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Rush as well as 22 others.
“The Polaris Heritage Prize continues to showcase the exceptional talent, dynamism and diversity of Canadian music over the years,” said Lou Ragagnin, President and CEO, of Re:Sound. “We are proud to sponsor the Heritage Prize, and extend our congratulations to Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Main Source.”
Like the Polaris Music Prize, winners and nominees for the Heritage Prize are Canadian albums of the artistic distinction, without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity. This is the Polaris version of a hall of fame where we try to determine who would have been nominated or won the Prize before it began in 2006.