Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, celebrated African singer Angélique Kidjo, and acclaimed classical composer Arvo Pärt were honored at the prestigious Polar Music Prize ceremony in Stockholm. The event took place at the Grand Hotel, where King Carl XVI Gustaf presented the awards to the Laureates.
The Polar Music Prize, established by Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, manager of ABBA and a songwriter himself, recognizes outstanding contributions to the music industry. The first recipients of the prize were Paul McCartney and the Baltic States in 1992.
During the ceremony, Chris Blackwell, Angélique Kidjo, and Michael Pärt (representing his father Arvo Pärt) delivered heartfelt acceptance speeches. Blackwell emphasized the importance of music creation and understanding others, expressing his hope that music can unite communities and generations. Kidjo shared her gratitude towards Blackwell for changing her life by signing her to Island Records, allowing her to bridge cultures through music.
In a video message, Arvo Pärt’s son expressed his father’s appreciation for the support his music has received over the years. He highlighted how his father’s compositions promote unity, love, empathy, and understanding among people.
The ceremony featured performances by various artists paying tribute to the Laureates. Lisa Ekdahl and Ibrahim Maalouf performed Angélique Kidjo’s song “Choose Love,” with Kidjo joining in and dancing along. Ysee, a singer from Benin, performed Kidjo’s composition “Agolo,” and Kidjo couldn’t resist joining her on stage.
Benjamin Ingrosso delivered a powerful rendition of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” one of Blackwell’s successful signings. Cat Stevens himself surprised the audience by appearing on stage and embracing Ingrosso.
Anna Ternheim, a Swedish singer-songwriter, impressed with her rendition of Roxy Music’s “Love Is The Drug,” another successful signing by Blackwell. Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music’s guitarist, expressed his appreciation from his seat next to the royal family.
The managing director of the Polar Music Prize, Marie Ledin, thanked her visionary father, Stig Anderson, for creating the award. She also acknowledged Angélique Kidjo for providing a delicious chocolate cake recipe served as dessert. Ledin expressed gratitude to the royal family for their longstanding support and her brothers for their ongoing work with the prize.
Chris Blackwell, Angélique Kidjo, and Arvo Pärt now join a prestigious list of previous Laureates, including Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Sting, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Dylan, among others.
The Polar Music Prize ceremony celebrated the remarkable contributions of these talented individuals and their immense impact on the world of music. It served as a reminder of the power of music to bring people together, inspire change, and create a lasting legacy.