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Haviah Mighty wins the 2019 Polaris Music Prize

The Toronto rapper is the first hip hop artist to win the $50,000 grand prize.

The Toronto rapper is the first hip hop artist to win the $50,000 grand prize

Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty is the 2019 Polaris Music Prize winner. (Vanessa Heins/CBC)

Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty has won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for her album, 13th Floor.

On Monday night, a grand jury of 11 Polaris voters convened at the Carlu in Toronto, Ont. to decide the winner of this year's big award, which is handed out every year to the best Canadian album of the year.

Mighty makes history with this win as the first hip hop artist to take home the grand prize in the award's 14-year run. 

Haviah Mighty performs a medley featuring tracks from 13th Floor at the 2019 Polaris Music Prize Gala. 8:24

As a solo artist and member of rap group the Sorority, Mighty has been a fixture in the local music scene for many years and, in her winning speech, notes the "very few accolades and very little reward" she has gotten until now. 

"This is the first time I've been able to speak my truth, my narrative," Mighty continued onstage. "And to have an album that's based on that theme and how important it is and how dismissed it often is... I don't care about that, this needs to come out.  

"I've had the same thoughts and the same sentiments since high school and every time, it was not the time or the place, and here now at the Polaris 2019, it is the time and the place for 13th Floor to take the stage. I'm so, so grateful." 

Haviah Mighty's 13th Floor wins the 2019 Polaris Music Prize. 5:11

Last year's Polaris Music Prize winner, Jeremy Dutcher, was in attendance tonight, as he states, to "give over the crown" to Mighty. Dutcher delivered a moving speech of his own prior to the winner reveal. 

"I think what tonight is about is togetherness and all of you who share this stage so beautifully exemplified how important it is to come together right now and do it in music, and do it in art," Dutcher told this year's nominees, after getting all of them to stand up. "It's so important that our stories are coming forward and that we're challenging these narratives of separateness."

Dutcher then took aim at the People's Party of Canada, an "anti-immigration" party that was given a televised debate spot recently. "You do not come to this country and tell us when it's closed," Dutcher said. "Enough. We always welcome in this land, that's how we do it, that's how the matriarchs do it." 

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