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It was announced last night that Polydor’s Michael Kiwanuka has won the Mercury Prize for his timeless third studio album KIWANUKA, a soulful psych-folk exploration of self-doubt, faith and the politics of prejudice. The winner of the most coveted pride in UK Music was revealed by Annie Mac on BBC1’s The One Show, following a live streamed set of pre-recorded performances from each of the nominees on Wednesday evening.
Released by Polydor last November, KIWANUKA reached No 2 on release, spent 18 weeks in the UK charts, and earned rave reviews from the press across the board, with the Guardian calling it “one of the greatest albums of the decade”. Michael's achievement also takes Polydor's Mercury Prize wins to a grand total of five, making them the label with the most Mercury Prize victories.
It’s third time lucky for Michael, having been nominated for a Mercury Prize for each of his previous albums, 2012's Home Again and 2016's Love & Hate. Michael was on set to receive his award, after being surprised by Annie earlier on in the day when he was on his way to be interviewed by Jools Holland.
Showing true humility and gratitude for the recognition, Kiwanuka said: “I’m over the moon. I don’t have words to say, I’m so, so excited. Like you said [the prize is] for art, for music. This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, so to win the Mercury is a dream come true. I’m so, so happy.”
Speaking about the recognition for KIWANUKA, Polydor’s marketing manager Helen Fleming said, “I’m so incredibly happy Michael won this year's Mercury Award! Couldn’t be more deserved, a humble man who wrote a masterpiece. A huge congratulations to Michael, management and everyone in his team who have worked tirelessly on this campaign. KIWANUKA will be an album that stands the rest of time.”
This album stood against the likes of Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, Kano and Laura Marling, and the winner was decided by a 12-strong panel of artists, journalists and industry figures alike. The musician was the bookies' favourite to win, followed by Laura Marling, who has now been nominated four times.