Pierre Kwenders wins the Polaris Music Prize for “José Louis and the Paradox Of Love”

Pierre Kwenders won the 2022 Polaris Music Prize for his album “José Louis and the Paradox Of Love”.

The Congolese-Canadian’s third album, which mixes the dancefloor energy of Congolese rumba, R&B and pop, was selected by an 11-member grand jury as Best Canadian Album of the Year based on its artistic merit. .

At the ceremony in Toronto on Monday night, Kwenders beat out nine other contenders for the $50,000 prize, including rapper Shad, Vancouver rock band Destroyer, Quebec pop provocateur Hubert Lenoir and Rosaireville, New York-raised Lisa LeBlanc. -Brunswick.

Kwenders accepted the honor after taking a knee on stage, which he later explained was out of nervousness.

“It means a lot to me, and a lot of people who have surrounded me and helped me to be the man I am today,” he said.

He went on to explain that in the past two months he had lost several people close to him, including cousins ​​and, most recently, his godfather.

“I kind of felt like (in) life something was wrong,” he said. “But then I remembered why I do what I do…to tell the story of the people who inspired me.”

Kwenders was born José Louis Modabi, in Kinshasa, Congo, and immigrated to Canada in 2001. His stage name is taken from his late grandfather, a local businessman and community leader.

“José Louis and the Paradox Of Love” was recorded over four years and Kwenders describes it as a reflection on romantic love, family and personal growth sung in English, French, Lingala, Tshiluba and Kikongo. It features musical collaborators King Britt, Michael Brun and Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire.

At a press conference after his win, he pondered how he would spend the $50,000 prize.

“The first thing I do with the money is give my mom the percent she deserves,” he said.

“(She is) a single mother, she has made a lot of sacrifices. She didn’t believe I could do it in music but still believed I had the courage to do it. She is always there to support me.

“Ten or 20% goes to my mother first. And then the rest? We will find out,” he added.

Kwenders has been celebrated by the Polaris Jury in the past. He had already landed a spot on the 2018 shortlist with his album “Makanda at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time”.

The Polaris Music Prize is considered one of the most prestigious music prizes in the country with past winners such as Haviah Mighty, Jeremy Dutcher and Kaytranada.

Attended by Canadian talent and industry players, the evening turned out to be a long celebration that lasted over four hours as each nominee took to the stage to perform, many of them playing at least two of their songs.

Last year’s winner Cadence Weapon opened the show with a performance of “On Me” and “Senna,” two tracks from his Polaris album “Parallel World.”

He was followed by this year’s nominees, including Toronto singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson and Haisla Nation hip-hop actor Snotty Nose Rez Kids.

Kwenders said being part of the multi-gender “melting pot” of her fellow nominees felt good and was “a good representation of Canada.”

“I don’t like to put myself in any kind of boxes,” he said. “But finding myself in this box, I feel like it’s the right box.”

—David Friend, The Canadian Press

Pop music

About Elaine Morales

Check Also

The Queen’s funeral will be a beautiful day, says the King’s music master

The Queen’s state funeral will be a day that will shine a light on the …