Congolese-Canadian musician José Louis Modabi – better known as Pierre Kwenders – has won this year’s Polaris Music Prize for latest album ‘José Louis And The Paradox Of Love’.
Kwenders will receive a monetary prize of $50,000 for winning, having been selected above fellow shortlisted acts such as Destroyer (‘LABYRINTHITIS’), Charlotte Day Wilson (‘ALPHA’), Ouri (‘Frame of a Fauna’) and Lisa LeBlanc (‘Chiac Disco’).
During an emotional acceptance speech during the ceremony at the Carlu in Toronto, Ontario Kwenders noted that in the past two months, he had lost his grandfather and two of his cousins.
“I remember the reason I do what I do and the reason why I do the music that I do and I tell the story that I tell with my music is to tell the story of the people that inspire me,” he noted. “All those three people that I mentioned inspired me as fuck.” Kwenders also thanked his manager and his collaborators on the album, including Arcade Fire‘s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne.
In an additional statement, Kwenders said: “This is for all the kids from the diaspora, the African diaspora, moving in Canada. Sometimes you feel like you don’t know what you’re running into, or what you’re coming into. But there is hope, there is a place to live and dream and be yourself.”
The Polaris Music Prize was launched in 2006, and this year marks the 17th iteration of the award, which honours the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit. This year, the winning album was selected by a jury of 11 music media professionals drawn from the wider Polaris jury pool of 197 writers, editors, broadcasters, DJs and personalities.
Last year’s Polaris Prize winner was Cadence Weapon, who presented Kwenders with his award. Previous winners have included Arcade Fire, Kaytranada, Fucked Up, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Feist and Backxwash.