Canada Listens: CBC Music's great music debate

5 celebrity panelists battle it out to decide which album Canadians need to hear.

5 celebrity panelists battle it out to decide which album Canadians need to hear

A panel of music lovers will drop the needle on which album Canadians should be listening to in 2021. (CBC)

If you love the way Canadians hash it out over books, wait until you hear how they mix it up over music!

Today, CBC Music launches Canada Listens, the musical cousin of Canada Reads that promises to fire up a whole new conversation and debate about great Canadian music. Canada Listens is the search for the one album Canada needs to hear. Twenty years ago, Canada Reads started a national radio conversation about Canadian literature that continues to have a positive impact on the publishing industry — and we hope Canada Listens will do the same for music.

CBC Music has gathered five celebrated, music-loving Canadians from various backgrounds who will go jab for jab over the albums they're championing.

Tune in on radio from April 12-15 on CBC Music at 8 a.m. during Mornings, with a 5 p.m. daily repeat airing on Drive. If you missed any of the debates, you can stream it on demand at CBC Listen.

Meet your panellists:

Alicia Elliott, author, championing The Con by Tegan and Sara 

Alicia Elliott champions Tegan and Sara in Canada Listens 2021. (Alicia Elliott)

Alicia Elliott is an award-winning, bestselling Haudenosaunee Nation writer who has contributed to the Washington Post, Chatelaine and Hazlitt. Her first book, A Mind Spread out on the Ground, was a national bestseller in Canada and won the 2020 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award.

The Con stands out as one of the best alternative albums of its decade [2000s], when Canadian bands were getting international attention, but mostly straight men were reaping the critical success.- Alicia Elliott

Kathleen Newman-Bremang, culture commentator, championing Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 by Kardinal Offishall

Kathleen Newman-Bremang champions Kardinal Offishall in Canada Listens 2021. (Newman-Bremang)

Kathleen Newman-Bremang is a Toronto-based writer, editor and producer, having contributed to The Social, eTalk: Live at the Oscars, MMVAs and Cravings: The Aftershow. Her writing has appeared in Lainey Gossip, Cosmo, Elle, Corduroy Magazine and the Kit. She is currently the senior editor at Refinery29 Unbothered.

Kardinal spoke to my experience as a Black Canadian and a daughter of immigrants. It was bold and it was Black and it meant a lot to me. - Kathleen Newman-Bremang

Andrew Phung, actor, championing Joyful Rebellion by k-os  

Andrew Phung champions K-OS in Canada Listens 2021. (CBC)

Andrew Phung is an award-winning actor best known for his role in CBC-TV's hit comedy Kim's Convenience, from which Phung is a three-time winner of the Canadian Screen Award for best supporting actor/guest star in a comedy series. His recent credits include The Beaverton and Little Italy. Phung is from Calgary.

This album is a banger from top to bottom. I think it's underappreciated and I want to give Joyful Rebellion its proper due. - Andrew Phung

Miguel Rivas, comedian/actor, championing Freudian by Daniel Caesar

Miguel Rivas champions Daniel Caesar for Canada Listens 2021. (David Leyes)

Miguel Rivas was the hilarious co-anchor on The Beaverton, and has made frequent appearances on CBC-TV's Baroness von Sketch and Gary and His Demons, and is a repeat panellist on CBC Radio's Because News with Gavin Crawford. He grew up in Ajax, Ont.

Freudian really represents a strong version of a modern Canadian album that is a total masterpiece. - Miguel Rivas

Carolyn Taylor, comedian/actor, championing Illuminations by Buffy Sainte-Marie 

Carolyn Taylor champions Buffy Sainte-Marie in Canada Listens 2021. (CBC)

Carolyn Taylor is the co-creator, executive producer and co-star of the hilarious hit CBC comedy series Baroness von Sketch, winner of 17 Canadian Screen Awards. Taylor is an alumna of Second City and has appeared on CBC's The Debaters, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, This is That, Because News and more. Taylor is from Montreal.

The Nixon and Johnson administrations had quashed this album because they believed [Buffy Sainte-Marie] was too dangerous and so people didn't get to hear it ... this is a tremendous album ... a transcendental, deep experience. - Carolyn Taylor

Canada Listens is hosted by CBC Music's Saroja Coelho. She will guide the panellists through four radio shows of fast, funny, and passionate debate. Each day, starting Monday, April 12 on CBC Music (8 a.m. on Mornings, 5 p.m. repeat on Drive) the panelists will vote to remove one album from the group, leaving one album spinning on Thursday, April 15. 

The Canada Listens winner becomes the one album Canada needs to hear.

Which Canadian album would you suggest? Tweet us @cbcmusic with #CanadaListens and let us know!

These are the great Canadian albums up for debate in Canada Listens 2021. (CBC Music)