Island Records founder Chris Blackwell among 2023 Polar Music Prize recipients

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell among 2023 Polar Music Prize recipients

Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, is among this year’s Polar Music Prize winners.

Grammy-winning Beninese artist Angélique Kidjo and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt are also recipients of the 2023 Polar Music Prize. 

The Polar Music Prize ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 23 in Stockholm at the Grand Hôtel. It will air live in Sweden on TV4, and globally via YouTube from 6pm (CET).

Since the inaugural ceremony in 1992, the Polar Music Prize has celebrated the achievements of some of the world’s most important and inspiring musical figures. The prize is presented in Stockholm in the presence of the Swedish Royal Family. Each Laureate will receive prize money of 600,000 Swedish Kroner (approximately £47,681).

Marie Ledin, managing director of the Polar Music Prize, said: “We are delighted to honour these three Laureates who have all made such a global impact with their music. Chris Blackwell founded and built Island Records into one of the most successful labels in music history. He has had a huge influence on the world of music and we are delighted to be able to celebrate this.

“Angélique Kidjo is an inspirational artist, she constantly explores and challenges and is one of the greatest singer-songwriters in international music. We are thrilled to be recognising her talent and shining a light on her important work with the Batonga Foundation.

“Arvo Pärt is one of the most incredible composers the world has ever seen, and his beautiful music has touched audiences around the globe. We are so happy to honour him as part of the 2023 Polar Music Prize.”

Chris Blackwell has had a huge influence on the world of music and we are delighted to be able to celebrate this

Marie Ledin

On being awarded the Polar Music Prize, Chris Blackwell said: “Receiving the Polar Music Prize means a huge amount. I feel very honoured. Scandinavia has always meant a lot to me, from the very beginning of my career. In fact, the first record I made and sold went into market in Sweden.”

As well as signing Bob Marley, Island released music by Cat Stevens, Roxy Music, Steve Winwood, Robert Palmer, Nick Drake, Melissa Etheridge, Tom Waits, Grace Jones and Marianne Faithful. The Polar Music Prize comes as Island act U2 secured their 11th UK No.1 album.

Angélique Kidjo said: “My passion for music has always been unwavering. Being on stage for me is like being in paradise - it’s my sanctuary. It’s my place to link and to connect with my fellow human beings. That is something that I’m grateful for every day.

“To be awarded the Polar Music Prize is humbling. I have no words to say how important this is for me. It comes with a sense of responsibility that is bestowed upon me as an artist to continue to do great work.”

Arvo Pärt said: "The Polar Music Prize is a very prestigious and important accolade for a composer. I am very touched and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart." 

Previous recipients of the Polar Music Prize include Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Chuck Berry, Ennio Morricone, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kronos Quartet, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Metallica, Iggy Pop, Ravi Shankar, Renée Fleming, Miriam Makeba, Wayne Shorter, Sofia Gubaidulina and many more.

The Polar Music Prize awards committee which selects the Laureates is an independent 11-member board. It receives nominations from the public as well as from the International Music Council, the UNESCO founded NGO which promotes geographical and musical diversity.


PHOTO: Mark Sagliocco/GC Images/Getty

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