Godspeed You! Black Emperor To Donate $30,000 Polaris Music Prize To Prison Education Efforts

By Eric Brown

Montreal-based ambient rock band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor was awarded the $30,000 Polaris Music Prize for its latest album “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” on Monday night, but the band declined to appear at the awards ceremony and vowed to donate the money to music education programs in Quebec prisons.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor / Photo courtesy victoryrosemusic.blogspot.com

The Polaris Music Prize is awarded every year to Canadian artists based solely on the quality of an album, regardless of sales, popularity or genre restrictions. Godspeed’s 2012 record, composed of four songs up to 20 minutes in length, was the band’s first album in a decade and earned the group significant praise from fans and music writers. But the enigmatic and politically minded band seems unwilling to accept financial awards for “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!”

According to CTV News, indie singer Feist announced Godspeed’s victory at the awards ceremony gala in Toronto Monday night, but none of the band’s members were in attendance. Instead, Constellation Records co-founder Ian Ilavsky appeared onstage and accepted the award on their behalf.

"I really did not expect to be up here tonight -- it's all a little abstract," Ilavsky said onstage. "I have known the band for almost 20 years. They've been at it for almost 20 years. And I do know they want to strongly and unequivocally thank everyone involved in the (Polaris)."

The next morning, the band posted a response to the Polaris Music Prize on the Constellation Records website, stating that members felt the awards ceremony was hypocritical and unnecessary. Instead of using the $30,000 award money for themselves, members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor say they will donate the money to set up a program providing instruments and music education to prisoners in Quebec.

(First published by International Business Times)