LONDON (Reuters) – Singer-songwriter and poet Arlo Parks won the 2021 Mercury Prize on Thursday, scooping the British music award for her critically acclaimed debut album “Collapsed in Sunbeams”.
The 21-year-old, whose songs address mental health and sexual identity, beat off 11 other contenders across a range of music genres for the prize, which is considered less mainstream than the annual BRIT Awards.
“I’m completely speechless,” Parks said in her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony in London.
“It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get here and there were moments where I wasn’t sure whether I would make it through but I am here today.”
Parks, whose real name is Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, rose to fame in the past year and released “Collapsed in Sunbeams” in January.
She has described it as “a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it. It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia.”
First handed out to rockers Primal Scream in 1992, the annual 25,000 pounds ($34,587) prize shortlists 12 albums released by British and Irish acts in the United Kingdom in the past year.
This year’s nominees included composer Hannah Peel, jazz musician Nubya Garcia, rappers Ghetts and Berwyn and electronic music artist Floating Points’ collaboration with Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra.
Other contenders were singer-songwriters Celeste and Laura Mvula, elusive music collective Sault, rock bands Mogwai and Black Country, New Road and 2018 Mercury Prize winners Wolf Alice.
($1 = 0.7228 pounds)
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Richard Chang)