Albums By Nomeansno, Faith Nolan Earn Polaris Heritage Honour
Two influential if commercially underrated 1980s albums by Faith Nolan and NoMeansNo have been given “classic” recognition as winners of this year’s Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize.
Haligonian Nolan’s Africville, first released in 1986, offers a 12-song cycle that dusted off a dark chapter in her city’s history when white greed, ignorance and prejudice ran rampant against a vulnerable black population located in a district from which the album’s title is drawn. The independently released LP and cassette became one of modern times’ first cultural artifacts to set the record straight about the city’s dirty little secret. Sadly, Africville is unavailable for purchase and only the title track is available to stream.
Also named by Polaris is Nomeanso’s 1989 Wrong album that became a best-seller for the seminal west coast hardcore punk band that rode to success in the wake of Nirvana’s mainstream breakthrough and the emerging popularity of what was to become known as “alternative rock”. It is the fourth of eleven albums by the BC band first formed by the Wright brothers, bassist/vocalist Rob and percussionist/vocalist John. The 13 track CD edition was reissued in 2005 with two additional tracks included. In 2015, Nomeansno was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame. A year later the group officially dissolved.
With the two new winners, 35 albums have received Polaris Heritage Prize designation since it was launched in 2015. Some other Heritage Prize winners include Glenn Gould, Feist, Harmonium, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Dream Warriors and Neil Young.
Like the Polaris Music Prize, winners and nominees for the Heritage Prize are Canadian albums of artistic distinction, without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity. It can be viewed as the Polaris version of a hall of fame for albums from the pre-Polaris era (ie. before 2006).
The Office of Gilbert Li, who curated the 2021 Polaris Music Prize posters and the posters for the 2020 Heritage Prize winners, will once again select the visual artists who’ll pay tribute to the two winning records in the form of Polaris Posters.
The Polaris Heritage Prize Jury is made up of 11 music media and historians, including Michael Barclay, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Del Cowie, Francella Fiallos, Stuart Henderson, Ken Kelley, Bob Klanac, Anupa Mistry, Catherine Pogonat and Tabbasum Siddiqui. Mary Dickie was the jury foreperson.