Ezra Collective win 2023 Mercury Prize - a first for a jazz act

Ezra Collective win 2023 Mercury Prize - a first for a jazz act

The 2023 Mercury Prize with Freenow has been awarded to Ezra Collective for the album Where I'm Meant to Be.

The awards show returned to the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith and was once again hosted by BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. 

The trophy was presented by Jamz Supernova, who described the album by Ezra Collective as an “uplifting and timely record”. It represents the first ever victory for a jazz act, as well as the first win for independent label Partisan.

“First of all, let me thank God,” said Ezra Collective drummer and band leader Femi Koleoso. “If a jazz band winning the Mercury Prize doesn’t make you believe in God, I don’t know what will.”

The judges' decision proved popular with fellow shortlisted acts in the venue and the audience. The London-based band performed Victory Dance as a joyous celebration of their Mercury triumph. 

Koleoso used his acceptance speech to pay tribute to organisations including Tomorrow’s Warriors, as well as the BRIT School and ELAM, among others.

“Ezra Collective represents something very special because we met in a youth club,” he added. “This moment that we’re celebrating right here is testimony to good, special people putting time and effort into young people playing music.”

The band also acknowledged the support of manager Amy Frenchum.

As well as the trophy, the Mercury Prize comes with a cash prize of £25,000. Perhaps more significantly, the Ezra Collective album chosen by the judges is set for a sales boost as a result of the triumph.

Where I’m Meant To Be charted at No.24 in November 2022  – a major achievement for a jazz record – and has sales to date of 11,449, according to the Official Charts Company. You can read our Music Week feature on Ezra Collective here.

Last year’s winning album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (Age 101/AWAL) by Little Simz, has sales to date of 62,108, according to the Official Charts Company.

The 2023 ceremony featured performances from winners Ezra Collective, Jessie Ware, Jockstrap, Lankum, Loyle Carner, Olivia Dean, Raye, Shygirl and Young Fathers. Arctic Monkeys and Fred Again.. are on tour and were unable to attend, while J Hus pulled out due to illness.

The Prize’s broadcast partner, BBC Music, provided coverage of the event on BBC Four and BBC Radio 6 Music, as well as online and on social media.

The dozen shorlisted albums for the 2023 Mercury Prize are below:

Arctic Monkeys -  The Car 
Ezra Collective -  Where I'm Meant to Be
Fred Again.. - Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022)
J Hus - Beautiful And Brutal Yard
Jessie Ware - That! Feels Good!
Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B
Lankum - False Lankum
Loyle Carner - Hugo 
Olivia Dean - Messy
Raye - My 21st Century Blues
Shygirl - Nymph
Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy

The Mercury Prize 2023 judges were: Anna Calvi – artist & songwriter; Danielle Perry – broadcaster & writer; Hannah Peel – musician, songwriter & composer; Jamie Cullum - musician & broadcaster; Jamz Supernova – broadcaster & DJ; Jeff Smith - head of music, 6 Music & Radio 2; Lea Stonhill – music programming consultant;  Mistajam – songwriter, DJ & broadcaster; Phil Alexander – creative director, Kerrang!/contributing editor, Mojo; Sian Eleri – broadcaster & DJ; Tshepo Mokoena – music writer & author; Will Hodgkinson - chief rock & pop critic, The Times. The chair of the judging team is Jeff Smith.


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