Michael Kiwanuka wins the 2020 Mercury Prize
Singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has received the 2020 Mercury Prize for his soul-searching third file, Kiwanuka.
A lush, immersive album of politicised soul, it sees the star exploring themes of self-doubt, religion and civil rights.
Launched final November, Kiwanuka beat best-sellers like Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia and Stormzy’s Heavy Is The Head to win the £25,000 prize.
“It is blown my thoughts,” stated the singer. “Music is all I’ve ever needed to do, so I am over the moon.”
Kiwanuka’s victory was revealed by Radio 1’s Annie Mac stay on The One Present, after Covid-19 restrictions made the annual award ceremony unattainable.
The DJ, who was on the panel of judges alongside the likes of Jamie Cullum and Jorja Smith, stated it had been a “unanimous” resolution.
“I do not suppose any of the judges walked away feeling sad,” she stated.
The 33-year-old, whose Ugandan mother and father escaped Idi Amin’s regime to settle in Muswell Hill, London, is a former session musician who dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music to turn into a solo artist.
He first got here to consideration after supporting Adele on her 2011 tour and winning the BBC’s Sound of 2012. He launched his debut album, Residence Once more, later that yr.
Kiwanuka cemented his popularity with 2016’s Love And Hate, which made him a star within the US when the opening track, Cold Little Heart, grew to become the theme tune to the TV sequence Huge Little Lies.
Regardless of his success, his newest album emerged from a interval of crippling self-doubt.
“I’ve at all times had imposter syndrome,” he instructed the BBC final yr. “I used to be at all times ready for somebody to search out me out.
“However a few yr and a half in the past, I bought bored with that mind-set. I simply went, ‘This is not serving to anybody, least of all me.'”
The end result was Kiwanuka’s opening observe, You Ain’t The Drawback, on which the musician vows to cease getting in his personal method, singing: “I used to hate myself / You bought the important thing / Escape the jail.”
The file continues as a track cycle the place Kiwanuka’s personal experiences and fears are interwoven with samples of civil rights campaigners and reflections on racial politics.
On the psych-rock soliloquy Hero, he compares the homicide of 1960s Black Panther activist Fred Hampton with current US police shootings. Exasperated, he turns to God for solutions on the call-and-response coda of I’ve Been Dazed.
Launched final November, the album earned rave critiques and reached quantity two within the UK charts. In July, it earned Kiwanuka a hat-trick of three Mercury nominations for his first three albums.
And it’s the newest album reflecting the experiences of younger black Britons to be chosen by Mercury judges. Kiwanuka is the fifth black male solo artist to win the award up to now six years. Rapper Dave received for Psychodrama final yr.
Saying the winner on The One Present will undoubtedly gave Kiwanuka’s file further publicity. The prime-time BBC One programme often attracts three million viewers, in contrast with the 155,000 who tuned in to final yr’s remaining on BBC 4.
The total 2020 shortlist was:
- Laura Marling – A Track For Our Daughter
- Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
- Porridge Radio – Each Unhealthy
- Sports activities Staff – Deep Down Completely happy
- Kano – Hoodies All Summer time
- Anna Meredith – FIBS
- Georgia – In search of Thrills
- Lanterns on the Lake – Spook the Herd
- Moses Boyd – Darkish Matter
- Charli XCX – How I am Feeling Now
- Stormzy – Heavy is the Head
- Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
The shortlist was praised for highlighting feminine artists, who outnumbered males for the primary time within the prize’s 29-year historical past.
However organisers got here beneath hearth for excluding British-Asian artist Rina Sawayama as a result of she doesn’t maintain a British passport.
After the singer stated she was “heartbroken” by the choice, the BPI, which organises each the Mercury Prize and the Brit Awards, said it would review its eligibility standards.