Maestro Fresh Wes, Skinny Puppy Awarded 2023 Slaight Heritage Prize


Maestro Fresh Wes and Skinny Puppy are this year's recipients of the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize.

The Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize is a hall of fame-minded critics prize/public polling campaign meant to celebrate classic Canadian albums. Like the Polaris Music Prize, winners and nominees of the Heritage Prize are albums of the highest artistic distinction, without regard to sales or affiliations.

Maestro, the pioneering Canadian rapper, was honoured for his 1989 debut album, Symphony in Effect, which marked a pivotal moment in hip-hop for Canada.

"I am thrilled to receive this prize. Symphony in Effect is the backbone, not only for Canadian hip-hop, but for Black music in Canada," Maestro Fresh Wes said in a statement. "It is the first album from a Black Canadian artist to reach Gold and Platinum status in this country, so it's a must that I thank all my fans and DJs who supported me. The album is a major part of our legacy here and it's an absolute honour to be acknowledged. Thanks again. Greatly appreciated."

Skinny Puppy, meanwhile, were recognized for their contribution to industrial music, with their debut album, Bites, which remains to be a benchmark genre album that laid the foundation for artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. 

"Thank you for noting Skinny Puppy and our album Bites with Polaris's Heritage Prize," Skinny Puppy's cEvin Key in a statement. "It's true that the album was made without considering commercial acceptability. It was a vibrant time in downtown Vancouver in 1985. I think most of our dreams were to be dancing at the Luv a Fair and hear one of our tracks. That happened! It's also not common for Skinny Puppy to be noted within the industry through history, except through the support of our devoted fanbase."

Maestro and Skinny Puppy beat out tough competition from an impressive field of nominees including Sarah McLachlan's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Plastikman's Consumed, k.d. lang's Absolute Torch and Twang, the Guess Who's American Woman, and Robbie Robertson's self-titled album.

Previous winners of the Slaight Heritage Prize include Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill, Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People, Mary Margaret O'Hara's Miss America, Neil Young's After the Gold Rush and Feist's Let It Die.