The recipients of the 2023 Polar Music Prize have been announced, seeing five-time Grammy Award-winner Angélique Kidjo joining Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and the world’s most performed living composer Arvo Pärt as this year’s recipients.
Kidjo, a Benin-born artist and songwriter, is world-renowned for her performances and songwriting abilities across five different languages – Fon, French, Yorùbá, Goun and English. The artist grew up in Cotonou, surrounded by the dynamic Beninese culture and listening to music from all over the world, including Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, James Brown, Manu Dibango, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti, Stevie Wonder, Osibisa, and Santana. When a communist dictatorship tried to silence her, she moved to Paris and became even more prolific.
Kidjo invented the word “batonga”, a response to those who think girls don’t belong in schools, and runs the Batonga Foundation, which provides girls with education. Bono has said of Kidjo: “In Africa’s new morning, Angélique Kidjo is the warmth of the rising sun.”
Speaking about the Prize, Kidjo says: “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. I will do my best to be a proud recipient of the Prize through my work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, on behalf of the children, and as an ambassador of music, to help create a world in which we can all live in peace. Thank you so much for making me part of this prestigious Prize, in such prestigious company.”
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Swedish musician, Stig “Stikkan” Anderson. Anderson was the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, and he played a key role in their enormous success.
The Polar Music Prize celebrates the power and importance of music and is awarded to individuals, groups or institutions for international recognition of excellence in the world of music. Previous recipients include Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Metallica, The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), Grandmaster Flash, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Stevie Wonder, Björk, and Joni Mitchell.
The Polar Music Prize ceremony will take place on Tuesday 23 May in Stockholm at the Grand Hôtel and is broadcast live in Sweden on TV4 at 20:00 (CET). It can be viewed globally via YouTube at 18:00 (CET).