T o b i a s Je sso Jr., musician, Vancouver
Breakout musicians overcoming great adversity before finding success is by no means an unheard-of occurrence. But 30-year-old West Coast pianist Tobias Jesso Jr.’s week of hapless incidents—getting hit by a car while riding his bike, being dumped by his girlfriend and finding out his mother had cancer—puts all other artistic sob stories to shame. In composing Goon, his debut LP of disarmingly simple piano-driven ballads, this friendly giant of pop rock (he’s six feet seven inches tall) tapped into raw emotional wounds and a kind of wide-eyed melancholy. Proof that good guys come out on top? He has been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and was praised by the likes of Adele and
Haim, and his mom is doing better.