- MATT BARNES
- Haviah Mighty’s latest album explores themes of racism, sexism and violence.
Haviah Mighty w/Just John x Dom Dias, Hua Li, Yohvn Blvck
Sat Oct 26
The Seahorse Tavern 2037 Gottingen Street, 9-11pm
"T he past year has been a bit of a blur," says Brampton, Ontario's Haviah Mighty—and if you've been paying attention to Canadian music in 2019, it's abundantly clear why that might be the case. After winning the 2018-2019 Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class, Mighty's evocative, gritty-yet-vulnerable 2019 album, 13th Floor, dominated radio and music media and won this year's Polaris Prize.
Also a member of Toronto hip hop supergroup, The Sorority, Mighty has been doing double duty performing, touring, creating and moving audiences in what can arguably be called the biggest year of her career to date.
"I've been balancing a lot of new responsibilities that have arisen as a result of me winning the Polaris. It's more prevalent how important it is for the standard to be at or above my personal best," says Mighty.
"I'm growing and evolving, it's critical for me right now to soak up information. I've been traveling more, trying to utilize this new experience as a catalyst for something bigger, trying to use that money to reinvest in myself and trampoline to something else. A lot of brainstorming."
With her Polaris win this September, Mighty made history two times over, as the first Black woman to win, as well as the first hip hop album to be awarded the prize, which comes with a $50,000 cheque. Considering the Polaris Prize has been around for 14 years, it's safe to say this win was a long time coming.
Mighty, who is at the forefront of this long-awaited change in the music landscape, is noticing.
"I feel like even that shift is concurrent with my career; 2016 being a notable time in that shift. I recognized there was space and room for me to be doing something I hadn't been doing," she says. "A lot of people haven't processed the fact that I won or understood that it's important, but seeing someone on stage that doesn't look what we've been used to, it challenges the way we think and know things. I'm starting to be considered for festivals that I never would have been considered for five years ago—it's starting to happen. I'm not the only person doing this but I'm a representative of the change people seek."
On 13th Floor, Mighty's powerful, rapid-fire delivery of moving lyrics on racism, sexism and violence brings consciousness to the Canadian music industry. "It's funny looking at a change and feeling like I'm a catalyst of that, it's hard to look at because I am it. People feel like I am it, I feel like by the reaction I get, I think it's a live performance experience that needs to be shared," she says. "We don't need the same rock band with four white guys five times in a row. It's outdated, it's lazy booking. We're seeing eclecticism in artists on bills and I am that eclecticism."