Blackwell among recipients of Sweden's Polar Music Prize
Chris Blackwell

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Island Records founder Chris Blackwell is among three recipients of the 2023 Polar Music Prize, a Swedish music award. He was joined by five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt in receiving the award.

The three “all made such a global impact with their music," Marie Ledin, managing director of the annual prize, said in announcing the winners on Tuesday.

Blackwell, 85, whose independent label started in Jamaica and signed artists such as Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Roxy Music, Tom Waits, Grace Jones and Marianne Faithful, made Island one “of the most successful labels in music history,” Ledin said in a statement.

The award committee said that Kidjo’s “striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages has won respect from her peers.” The 62-year-old singer-songwriter has mixed the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America.

Ledin described Pärt who is 87, as “one of the most incredible composers the world has ever seen, and his beautiful music has touched audiences around the globe.” She noted that his tintinnabuli, a composition style that Pärt invented in 1976, “has deeply affected the course of music over several decades.”

"His works have reached a vast number of listeners, not only via concerts and recordings but also through films and theatrical productions,” she said.

The Polar Music Prize is awarded annually to individuals, groups and institutions in recognition of exceptional music achievements. It includes a cash award of 600,000 kronor ($57,700) each. An awards ceremony is scheduled for May 23 in Stockholm.

Stig Anderson, the late Swedish music producer, lyricist and ABBA manager, established the award in 1989. The prize shares a name with the record label Anderson started. Polar Music.

Previous recipients include Icelandic singer Bjork, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Chuck Berry, Ennio Morricone, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Iggy Pop, Ravi Shankar, Renée Fleming and Miriam Makeba.

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