Congolese-Canadian musician & songwriter Pierre Kwenders wins 2022 Polaris Music Prize

Congolese-Canadian musician & songwriter Pierre Kwenders wins 2022 Polaris Music Prize

Wed Sep 21st
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The 2022 edition of the Polaris Music Prize, an organization that "annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction", has declared Pierre Kwenders’ latest album ‘José Louis and the Paradox of Love’ to be Canada’s album of the year.

Pierre Kwenders, the stage name of José Louis Modabi, is a Congolese-Canadian musician famous for his boundary-transcending and culturally rich music. Singing and rapping in English, French, Lingala (the language spoken in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Tshiluba (the national language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and combining African music with influences such as hip hop and electronic music, Kwenders takes the audience on an intimate, empowering and unparalleled journey.

Kwenders' album ‘José Louis and the Paradox of Love’ that won him the 2022 Polaris Music Prize is further proof of the artist's undeniable talent, blending Congolese rumba, contemporary electronic music, pop-R&B and jazz-infused progressions in a fascinating mix. Watch the video for 'Papa Wemba' from the album:

“He specifically thanked his aunt, who moved to Canada in 1992 and invited his mother to move to the country as well. “I’m here in front of you because of all those people,” he said. “I know those people weren’t perfect. They had their own struggle as I had. My album is called José Louis and the Paradox of Love because love is a paradox, and I still don’t know what love is. I’m still trying to figure it out.”  – Pitchfork 

Pierre Kwenders performs live at Le Guess Who? on Saturday 12 November 2022 as part of the ‘Moonshine presents SMS for Location’ project. Also performing at the festival are San Faranina, DJ P2N, Otim Alpha, Judgitzu, DJ Diaki, and many more

Photography by Daniele Fummo

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