Canada Listens: CBC Music's great debate returns

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

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

5 distinct Canadian albums will be debated by 5 distinct personalities, but only 1 title will be crowned the album Canadians need to hear now. (CBC Music)

Canada Listens is back for another year of great musical debate! If you love the way Canadians hash it out over books, wait until you hear how they mix it up over music.

Canada Listens is the musical cousin of Canada Reads, which again promises to fire up a whole new conversation ⁠and friendly debate about what makes Canadian music great. Canada Listens is the search for the one album Canada needs to hear. 

CBC Music has gathered five celebrated, music-loving Canadians from various accomplished backgrounds who will share their passion for the albums they're championing.

Tune in from April 11-14 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 them on demand at CBC Listen. 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).

Meet your panellists:

Stephanie Labbé, athlete, championing Ria Mae by Ria Mae

Canadian soccer star Stephanie Labbé will be defending Ria Mae's self-titled album on Canada Listens 2022. (CBC / Dave Holland)

Stephanie Labbé captured the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast to coast when she backstopped Team Canada in their historic and unforgettable gold medal win in women's soccer at the Tokyo Olympics. Almost as memorable as the gold was the unflappable goalie's smile throughout the otherwise nail-biting final. How will her nerves stand up in a music debate? We shall see!

For me, this album is the true representation of someone living their truth and following their passion.Ria's music encourages inclusivity which is exactly what this country needs right now.- Stephanie Labbé 


Dave Merheje, comedian, championing When Smoke Rises by Mustafa

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

Dave Merheje is a renowned and hilarious stand-up comedian whose album Good Friend Bad Grammar won the 2019 Juno Award for comedy album of the year. He can also be seen on the award-winning comedy series Ramy, and the Netflix series Comedians of the World

This album deals with grief. 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.- Dave Merheje


Kim Roberts, actor, championing Sleepless by Jacksoul

Actor Kim Roberts will champion Jacksoul's album Sleepless on Canada Listens 2022. (David Leyes/CBC)

Kim Roberts is a highly accomplished and sought-after actor whose considerable talents have landed her roles in everything from The Handmaid's Tale to Paw Patrol, along with roles in Schitt's Creek, Being Erica, The Doodlebops, and Saw III and IV. When asked what it was about the Sleepless album by Jacksoul that made her want to champion it, she simply replied: "Vibes."

Vibes.- Kim Roberts


Les Stroud, TV star and author, championing Further Adventures Of by Bruce Cockburn

Survivorman Les Stroud will champion Bruce Cockburn's Further Adventures Of on Canada Listens 2022. (CBC / Laura Bombier)

Les Stroud's name is synonymous with survival, having created and starred in his own hit TV show Survivorman for eight seasons — and being credited for igniting the current-day survivalist TV genre. Stroud is also an award-winning producer, documentarian, author and musician.

Incredibly profound lyrically, [this album] comes from an artist who is undeniably a massive force in the sound of Canada. It's my all time favourite Canadian album.- Les Stroud


Erica Violet Lee, poet and activist, championing Crown Lands by Crown Lands

Poet and activist Erica Violet Lee will champion Crown Lands' self-titled album on Canada Listens 2022. (CBC)

Raised in Saskatoon, Erica Violet Lee is a Cree poet and artist, and an internationally recognized writer, scholar, educator and activist known for her work on Indigenous rights and climate justice. She has emerged as a notable voice in the Idle No More movement, which has taken her everywhere from remote northern Indigenous communities to the United Nations in Paris. 

A mystical trip for the senses and a celebration of Indigenous resistance, Crown Lands' self-titled debut album is as necessary today as it is destined to become the stuff of rock 'n' roll legend.- Erica Violet Lee


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 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 will become the one album Canada needs to hear.

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