Canada Listens: Mustafa

Comedian Dave Merheje is championing Mustafa's Juno-nominated album, When Smoke Rises.

Comedian Dave Merheje is championing Mustafa's Juno-nominated album, When Smoke Rises

Comedian Dave Merheje will defend Mustafa's album When Smoke Rises on Canada Listens 2022. (David Leyes/CBC)

Dave Merheje should be no stranger to fans of cutting-edge Canadian comedy, but can he avoid getting his album of choice cut from Canada Listens? The hilarious, Juno-nominated standup is known for his side-splitting turns on series like Ramy and Comedians of the World. On Canada Listens 2022, Merheje shows us his serious side with his pick: Mustafa the Poet's critically acclaimed debut album, When Smoke Rises.

"This album deals with grief," says Merheje. "And in a way, it helped me deal with my own grieving. It's powerful. And I don't use that word lightly. I think Canada needs to hear this album."

Toronto spoken-word artist and musician Mustafa released When Smoke Rises independently on May 28, 2021, in tribute to a friend who was murdered in 2018. The album's acclaim was almost immediate. When Smoke Rises and Mustafa received high-profile reviews and features in places like Pitchfork, GQ, and the New York Times, which called Mustafa "a folk hero for a weary generation." He appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on the eve of the album's release, and the record landed on the short list for the 2021 Polaris Music Prize. Mustafa is currently nominated for two 2022 Juno Awards, for alternative album and songwriter of the year. 

Check out this year's album trailers, panelist pre-interviews and more here.

Canada Listens is hosted by CBC Music's Saroja Coelho. She will guide the panellists through four radio shows of passionate debate. Each day, starting Monday, April 11 on CBC Music (8 a.m. on Mornings, 5 p.m. repeat on Drive) the panellists will vote to remove one album from the group, leaving one album spinning on Thursday, April 14. 

A special two-hour version, highlighting the best of the 2022 Canada Listens debate, will air on CBC Radio One on Monday, April 18 at 4 p.m. (4:30 NT).

The Canada Listens winner becomes the one album Canada needs to hear. The contenders this year include:

  • Bruce Cockburn's Further Adventures Of, championed by "Survivorman" Les Stroud. 
  • Mustafa's When Smoke Rises, championed by comedian Dave Merheje.
  • Crown Land's Crown Lands, championed by poet Erica Violet Lee. 
  • Ria Mae's Ria Mae, championed by Olympic athlete Stephanie Labbé.
  • Jacksoul's Sleepless, championed by actor Kim Roberts.

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

5 celebrity panelists will debate which album Canadians should mostly definitely hear in 2022. (CBC)