SOCAN member Debby Friday won the 2023 edition of the $50,000 Polaris Prize for the best album in Canada, in a gala presentation held on Sept. 19, 2023, at Massey Hall (for the first time) in downtown Toronto.
Friday’s’ winning album Good Luck is a 33-minute adrenalin rush of modern music fusion, with influences including rave, rap, industrial, alternative, R&B, and hyperpop, to name just a few. The result is a work on which the 11-person Polaris Grand Jury ultimately agreed. If you’d like to read what Friday had to say to SOCAN about their winning album when it first came out, you can access the story here.
Graciously and gratefully accepting the 18th edition of the award onstage from last year’s winner, Pierre Kwenders, Friday thanked everyone who’s supported her on her journey.
“I’m in shock!,” said a truly surprised Friday after receiving her award. “This is something that I didn’t realize was even a possibility. I was born in Nigeria, in a small village, but l’m here today, and it just feels like a miracle… I’ve always been a little bit strange, a little bit different from other people, and it’s only in retrospect that I’m able to see that this has been a super-power all along. I just want to say that I think it’s very important to protect your strangeness, protect the things that make you different, because these are gifts.”
The Gala featured brief but intense performances from all of the nominees except ALVVAYS, Daniel Caesar, and Feist, all of whom were on tour elsewhere that night.
Gayance opened the show with a magnetic performance of high-energy funk and rock. The Sadies, playing under a banner depicting their late singer Dallas Good, showed off their psychedelicized indie rock ‘n’ roll. Friday, backed by violin, cello, a DJ, and electric guitar, turned old gender tropes inside-out with “What a Man,” and followed with her poppiest song, “So Hard to Tell.” Aysanabee played with the Arkells horn section and two backup singers, for a richer, more soulful rendition of his music.
After a brief intermission, Begonia earned a mid-song ovation with the power and beauty of her unique voice. Dan Mangan worked the very lip of the stage, singing powerful, moving songs about trying to live sanely through our currently apocalyptic times. And Snotty Nose Rez Kids introduced their set in a satirical talk-show format, leading into explosive versions of “I’m Good” and “Damn Right.”
The Polaris Music Prize, presented by CBC Music, goes to the best Canadian album of the year, based on artistic merit, without regard to genre, sales history, or label affiliation. Each of the 2023 short-list nominees received a $3,000 prize.
The 2023 Polaris Short List is:
ALVVAYS – Blue Rev
Aysanabee – Watin
Begonia – Powder Blue
Daniel Caesar – Never Enough
Feist – Multitudes
Debby Friday – Good Luck
Gayance – Masquerade
Dan Mangan – Being Somewhere
The Sadies – Colder Streams
Snotty Nose Rez Kids – I’m Good, HBU?
SOCAN congratulates Debby Friday, and all of the 2023 short-list nominees, on these great career achievements!