The last time a francophone album made it onto the Polaris Music Prize short list was in 2011 when Galaxie's Tigre et Diesel went up against eight English-language albums and one instrumental record. The year before that, Polaris awarded Karkwa's Les Chemins de Verre the title of best Canadian album — the only French act to win in the prize's 12-year history.
While francophone albums have been included on the long list every year, Quebec pop-rocker Hubert Lenoir is the first French artist on the short list in seven years. In a recent interview with CBC Music, Lenoir acknowledges this and adds that this year's strong showing of French artists on the long list, as well as Québécois artists on the short list (Pierre Kwenders, Jean-Michel Blais), is a clear indication of something brewing within the francophone community: "We're coming back at you and we're going to release some amazing records in the next years."
When asked why he thinks it's so difficult for French artists to break through, he suggests that there's a broken line of communication between the anglophone and francophone worlds within Canada. "Maybe it's because there's not enough bridge between these two cultures," he says. "We are both making tons of great stuff, but we're never talking to each other."
Watch the Q&A with Hubert Lenoir below and find out what he will do if he takes home the $50,000 prize.
CBC Music will stream this year's Polaris Music Prize gala live on Sept. 17 on cbcmusic.ca/polaris.
Celebrating the best of Canadian music from 2018. The Polaris Prize awards the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label. Hear this year's short-list nominees Weaves, Daniel Ceasar, Jeremy Dutcher, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Alvvays and more.