Mercury Prize 2021: Arlo Parks scoops Album Of The Year award

Mercury Prize 2021: Arlo Parks scoops Album Of The Year alongside £25,000 cash prize as she admits: ‘There were moments where I wasn’t sure I would make it through’

Arlo Parks was announced as the overall winner of the Hyundai Mercury Prize Awards on Thursday, scooping the Album Of The Year gong for her debut, Collapsed in Sunbeams.

Collecting her award, the musician, 21, took to the stage at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo and thanked her family in her acceptance speech, adding: ‘It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get here, and there were moments where I wasn’t sure I would make it though, so thank you very much.’

Presenter Annie Mac announced Arlo as this year’s winner on behalf of the judging panel alongside host Lauren Laverne, with other attendees including Clara Amfo, singer Celeste and Hannah Peel.

Winner: Arlo Parks, 21, was announced as the overall winner of the Hyundai Mercury Prize Awards on Thursday, scooping the Album Of The Year gong for her debut, Collapsed in Sunbeams

She said: ‘It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get here, and there were moments where I wasn’t sure I would make it though, so thank you very much’

Arlo – real name Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho – collected her award to a standing ovation and of her win, the judging panel said: ‘It was extremely difficult to choose a winner of the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize.

‘There were so many strong albums, of such diversity and character. But in the end we decided that Arlo Parks was an extremely worthy winner.

‘Addressing such complex issues as mental health and sexuality with real empathy, displaying a lyrical wisdom that belied her 21 years, with Collapsed In Sunbeams Arlo Parks has created an album that has captured the spirit of the year in a positive, forward thinking fashion.’

They added: ‘It has the ability to reach out and remind a wider audience of the timeless art of the album. Arlo is an artist who connects deeply with her generation and reflects the plurality of contemporary British life.’

On the panel was Anna Calvi, Annie Mac, Danielle Perry, Gemma Cairney, Hazel Wilde, Jamie Cullum, Jeff Smith, Michael Kiwanuka, Mike Walsh, Phil Alexander, Tshepo Mokoena, Will Hodgkinson, and Jeff Smith.

Judges: Of Arlo’s win, the judging panel said: Addressing such complex issues as mental health and sexuality with real empathy, displaying a lyrical wisdom that belied her 21 years, with ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ Arlo Parks has created an album that has captured the spirit of the year in a positive, forward thinking fashion’

They added: ‘It has the ability to reach out and remind a wider audience of the timeless art of the album’

The panel continued: ‘Arlo is an artist who connects deeply with her generation and reflects the plurality of contemporary British life’

Red hair: The musician rocked flame red hair at the ceremony 

Stylish: She cut a stylish figure in a pleated black dress worn over a long-sleeved white top

The show featured live performances from any of the 2021 shortlisted Albums of the Year including BERYWN, Black Country, New Road, Celeste, Ghetts, Hannah Peel, Laura Mvula, Mogwai, Nubya Garcia, and Wolf Alice.

Short films were shown about the albums by SAULT and Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the LSO.

Speaking last month about being this year’s host, BBC Music 6 DJ Lauren, 43, said: ‘I’m delighted to be hosting the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize Awards Show.

Announcement: Presenter Annie Mac announced Arlo as this year’s winner on behalf of the judging panel (pictured with Clara Amfo)

Stylish display: Singer Celeste (left) put on a stylish display 

Beautiful: The talented musician wore a beautiful gown

Dapper: Joff Oddie from band Wolf Alice cut a dapper figure

Short list: The short list saw Scottish post-rock group Mogwai (pictured) score their first nomination, more than 25 years after they were founded in Glasgow

Performance: Black Country, New Road also performed

Main woman: Lauren Laverne fronted the ceremony

Wow: Musician Nubya Garcia wore a striking green dress

‘It’s a fantastic shortlist showcasing the incredible creativity of the British & Irish music scene – and I’m looking forward to seeing some amazing live performances at the show.’

Alongside Arlo, Celeste and Wolf Alice lead the musicians in contention for the prestigious accolade which promotes the best of British and Irish music, with 12 albums named in total.

Alongside the trio, Berwyn, Black Country, New Road, Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra, Ghetts, Hannah Peel, Laura Mvula, Mogwai, Nubya Garcia, and SAULT’s latest releases were also nominated.   

Serenading: The star serenaded the audience with her talent

Beaming: The star beamed from ear to ear 

Friends: Gemma Cairney and Annie Mac posed for photos together

Rocking out: Wolf Alice performed their hits

Taking to the stage: Celeste dropped jaws with her vocal range

Pink: The rising star rocked an immaculate pink manicure 

Laura Mvula also secured her third nomination with Pink Noise, for which she eschewed her classical influences in favour of 1980s soul and pop.

All three of her studio albums have been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize but she is yet to win.

The shortlist also saw Scottish post-rock group Mogwai score their first nomination, more than 25 years after they were founded in Glasgow.

As The Love Continues, their 10th record, also earned them their first number one in February this year.

Standing tall: Musician Hannah Peel wowed in glittery silver boots

Time to perform: Hannah Peel also took to the stage 

Incredible: Laura Mvula looked incredible while performing 

Their previous chart peak had come in 2017 when they reached number six with Every Country’s Sun.

Prior to that only one of their records had cracked the top 10.

Both post-rock band Black Country, New Road and jazz saxophonist Nubya Garcia both also earned nominations for their debut albums.

Michael Kiwanuka won last year’s Mercury Prize with his third album Kiwanuka, fending off competition from Stormzy, Laura Marling and Dua Lipa, he is now a new addition to the judging panel.

Bold: Annie Mac opted for a bold red dress

Judge: Judge Jamie Cullum cut a trendy figure 

High spirits: Ghetts appeared in high sprits while posing with a guest

Shades on: Lil Simz looked FROW-ready and wore sunglasses inside 

Red’s the word: Jack Saunders was also rocking bright red hair

Judges: Judges Danielle Perry, Mike Walsh, Jeff Smith, Phil Alexander, Jamie Cullum, Will Hodgkinson, Gemma Cairney and Annie Mac pose together 

Heart: Musician Berwyn flashed a heart sign

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