Sweden's Polar Music Prize awarded to Chris Blackwell, Angélique Kidjo and Arvo Pärt

The recipients of 2023's Polar Music Prize have been announced
The recipients of 2023's Polar Music Prize have been announced Copyright Polar Music Prize - French Embassy - Vimeo
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt have won the 2023 Polar Music Prize, a top Swedish music award

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The winners of this year’s Polar Music Prize have been announced - and they’re all big hitters in the musical world.

The three recipients announced today (Tuesday 28 March) are Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

The managing director of the annual Swedish award, Marie Ledin, explained that the winners, “(have) all made such a global impact with their music".

COURTESY OF SIMON & SCHUSTER
Chris Blackwell (right) with (from left) Junior Marvin, Bob Marley, and Jacob Miller - 1980COURTESY OF SIMON & SCHUSTER

85-year-old Blackwell started independent label Island Records in Jamaica and signed artists such as Bob Marley, Roxy Music, Grace Jones and Marianne Faithful. He was given the lifetime achievement award by Polar, with Ledin explaining he’d made Island one “of the most successful labels in music history”.

French Embassy in US
Angélique KidjoFrench Embassy in US

Angélique Kidjo was praised by the award committee for her “striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages has won respect from her peers”. The 62-year-old singer-songwriter has been influenced by West African traditions from her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, to name but a few inspirations.

French Embassy in US
Angélique KidjoFrench Embassy in US

Ledin described Arvo Pärt as “one of the most incredible composers the world has ever seen, and his beautiful music has touched audiences around the globe”. The 87-year-old invented the composition style of tintinnabuli in 1976 and Ledin commended his genius saying it “has deeply affected the course of music over several decades”.

In 2010, his family established The Arvo Pärt Centre in his home village of Laulasmaa in Estonia, initially as a personal archive of his works. It opened to the public in 2018 and features a library, concert hall and research and educational facilities.

French Embassy in US
Angélique KidjoFrench Embassy in US

The Polar Music Prize is awarded each year to individuals, groups and institutions to recognise exceptional music achievements.

Late Swedish music producer, lyricist and ABBA manager Stig Anderson established the award in 1989, and the distinctions share the name with the record label he started - Polar Music.

Previous recipients include, among numerous others, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Ennio Morricone, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Elton John and Ravi Shankar.

An official awards ceremony is set to take place on 23 May in Stockholm, and each winner will also receive a cash prize of 600,000 Swedish krona (approximately €53,500).

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