May 24, 2024

Pantayo is an all-female band. Photo by Sarah Bodri on Pantayo’s Facebook

The Polaris Music Prize has announced the 10 albums on its list for the best Canadian album award in 2020.

The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually recognizes artists who make notable music albums. 

This year’s list includes Pantayo, the first and eponymous album of an all-woman band based in Toronto.

The Pantayo band’s music is grounded on the kulintang, a traditional instrument in the southern Philippines.

The kulintang is made of eight knobbed gongs on a wooden rack.

Formed in 2012, the band is composed of five Canadian Filipinos.

They are Eirene Cloma, vocals, bass, keyboard; Michelle Cruz, vocals, agong (a type of gong); Joanna Delos Reyes, vocals, gandingan (a type of gong), and sarunay (another gong); Kat Estacio, vocals, kulintang, dabakan (drum); and Estacio’s sister Katrina, vocals, kulintang, sarunay (small kulintang).

The winner for the 2020 Polaris Music Prize will get $50,000. 

This year’s awards ceremony is not happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A tribute will take place virtually on CBC Gem, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on October 19.

The list of 10 albums was announced on July 15.

“Canadian music has a vast and vibrant spectrum,” Melissa Vincent, the foreperson of the Polaris jury that selected the nominees, said in a media release. 

According to Vincent, this year’s list “features a blend of exciting emerging voices and celebrated Polaris Prize winners”. 

“Now and forever, thank you to our jury for devoting their time and energy to crafting this list and continuing to champion the music of Canadian artists,” Vincent added.

A second panel of jurors will convene to select the 2020 winner.

On its social media account, Pantayo notes that while its music is based on the “traditional kulintang music of the Maguindanaon and T'boli peoples of the Philippines”, the band also explores the “possibility of kulintang music influenced by our identities as diasporic Filipinas”.

Their kulintang music is fused with electronic and synthesizer-based influences. 

Pantayo also offers music and cultural workshops to teach kulintang. 

The group has been featured by numerous Canadian media organizations from east to west.

In 2018, the Toronto-based NOW magazine named Pantayo as one of the bands to watch.

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