Angélique Kidjo wins world’s ‘most prestigious music prize’

Multiple award-winner Angélique Kidjo has added another title to her laurels. The African singer won the 2023 Polar Music Prize, often called the Nobel Prize of Music, on Tuesday. She was honoured with the award alongside Britain’s Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, and Estonian composer Arvo Part.

The Polar Music Prize is an annual Swedish international award founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, best known as the manager of the Swedish band ABBA.

The organisers of the Prize described the US-based, Benin Republic-born Kidjo as “one of the greatest singer-songwriters in international music”. The five-times Grammy winner sings in her native Fon and Yoruba languages as well as in French and English.

“So proud to be the laureate of the Polar Music Prize (the most prestigious music prize in the world!) along with my musical godfather Chris Blackwell (the founder of Island Records who discovered me!) and along with the great composer #Arvopärt,” Angelique Kidjo twitted on Tuesday .
“Thanks to all my fans, my family, my team and to the African continent which has inspired me and supported me all these years!!!”

Dubbed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time magazine, Kidjo is best known for her hits “Agolo” and “We We”.

The two other winners have also made notable contributions to music. Blackwell founded the Island Records label in Jamaica which went on to sign such legendary stars as Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Roxy Music and U2.

Estonia’s Arvo Part, who the jury described as “the world’s most performed living composer”, was highlighted for his “unique compositional technique, tintinnabuli” which he invented in the 1970s.

The laureates will receive their 600,000 kroner ($58,000) prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on 23 May.

Vivian Asamoah

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