The field of nominees for this year's Polaris Music Prize includes heavyweights Gord Downie, Leslie Feist and Leonard Cohen, but a dark horse looms on the fringes. She's Lido Pimienta, a Colombian-born, Toronto-based musician whose striking 2016 album La Papessa translates to "High Priestess." To fortune tellers, the high-priestess card in a tarot deck represents wisdom and serenity. Pimienta has said the album is about "getting ready for war, with love."
How does one say "badass" in Spanish?
Pimienta's Spanish-language LP is unstoppable electronic art-pop, marked by an elegant sort of fierceness – her exotic sound a lovely suit of armour; her voice, a penetrating wail. The third of nine songs, Quiero Que Te Vaya Bien (I Want You to Do Well) marches to a rat-a-tat military snare drum. "I feel and expect respect," Pimienta sings in her native tongue. "One to be admired."
On La Capacidad (You Are Able To), she challenges patriarchal notions:
I wasn't born to cook for you or give you children
I wasn't born to fit into no hetero normative soap opera
I wasn't born to set worldwide feminism back
High priestess? The kids today say "queen." Don't be surprised if Pimienta is the last one standing – at the Polaris gala, and elsewhere.
Lido Pimienta and fellow nominees Lisa LeBlanc, Tanya Tagaq, Leif Vollebekk and Weaves are scheduled to perform at the Polaris Music Prize Gala, Sept. 18, 8 p.m., $73.45, The Carlu, 444 Yonge St., 855-985-5500 or ticketmaster.ca.