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Mercury Music Prize: Ezra Collective won!

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    Posted: 08 Sep 2023 at 4:17am

Mercury Music Prize: Ezra Collective become first jazz winners

Ezra Collective have become the first jazz act to win the Mercury Prize, with their album Where I'm Meant To Be.

The prestigious 25,000 prize celebrates the best British or Irish album of the last 12 months.

The quintet held off competition from fellow nominees Jessie Ware, J Hus, Arctic Monkeys, Fred Again and Raye.

Accepting the award, drummer Femi Koleoso said the group "represents something very special because we met in a youth club".

"This moment that we're celebrating right here is testament to good, special people putting time and effort into young people to play music," he continued.

"This is not just a result for Ezra Collective, or for UK jazz, but this is a special moment for every single organisation across the country, ploughing efforts and time into young people playing music."

Ezra Collective were announced as the winners by DJ Jamz Supernova during the ceremony in Hammersmith, west London, on Thursday evening.

Accepting the prize, Koleoso thanked God, the band's team and family who have supported them through the years.

He joked: "If a jazz band winning the Mercury Prize doesn't make you believe in God, I don't know what will."

Where I'm Meant To Be, while broadly categorised as jazz, is a melting pot of genres, with elements of grime, salsa and reggae.

In a five-star review published last year, the Observer's Kate Hutchinson called it "an exceptional album that centres joy and community, radiates positivity and youthful abandon, and could well be the one to cross over to the big league".

Ezra Collective information card

Speaking to BBC News after being announced as winners, Koleoso explained: "We're the shuffle generation of music, we listen to some Beethoven, and then 50 Cent comes on straight after, and then Little Simz comes on just after that.

"And that kind of influences the way we approach music. So there are no rules, we love jazz, but at the same time we love salsa too, so why not try and get that in there?"

Broadcaster Lauren Laverne hosted the ceremony, which featured live performances from nine of the shortlisted artists.

J Hus had been due to perform but pulled out due to illness, while Arctic Monkeys and Fred Again were not present due to touring commitments.

The Mercury shortlist was chosen by an independent judging panel including music critic Will Hodgkinson, musicians Anna Calvi and Jamie Cullum, and DJs Jamz Supernova and MistaJam.

from www.bbc.com

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