Beninese Angelique Kidjo awarded Polar Music Prize

Award winning singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo won the 2023 Polar Music Prize.

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and composer Arvo Pärt have also won the Swedish music award.

They “made such a global impact with their music,” Marie Ledin, the managing director of the annual prize, said in announcing the winners Tuesday, March 28.

The award committee was enthralled by Kidjo’s “striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages.” The 62-year-old has mixed the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of U.S R&B, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America.

The Polar Music Prize is awarded annually to individuals, groups and institutions for exceptional music achievements. An awards ceremony is scheduled for May 23 in Stockholm.

Annual award
Blackwell, 85, whose independent label started in Jamaica and signed artists such as Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Roxy Music, Tom Waits, Grace Jones and Marianne Faithful, made Island one “of the most successful labels in music history,” Ledin said in a statement.

Ledin described Pärt who is 87, as “one of the most incredible composers the world has ever seen, and his beautiful music has touched audiences around the globe.” She noted that his tintinnabuli, a composition style that Pärt invented in 1976, “has deeply affected the course of music over several decades.”

The Polar Music Prize is awarded annually to individuals, groups and institutions in recognition of exceptional music achievements. It includes a cash award of 600,000 kronor ($57,700) each.

It was founded in 1989 by former ABBA manager Stig Anderson. Last year, the Polar Music Prize was awarded to Iggy Pop and singer-songwriter Diane Warren.

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