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Ezra Collective Takes Home Coveted Mercury Prize For Where I'm Meant To Be

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Ezra Collective Takes Home Coveted Mercury Prize for “Where I’m Meant To Be

In a dazzling celebration of musical talent, Ezra Collective emerged victorious at this year’s Mercury Prize, claiming the coveted award for their outstanding album, “Where I’m Meant To Be.” This instrumental jazz ensemble outshone formidable competitors such as Raye, Jessie Ware, and J Hus, clinching the prestigious accolade and the accompanying £25,000 prize. The electrifying ceremony unfolded amidst a star-studded audience at London’s illustrious Hammersmith Apollo.

Nine of the twelve nominated acts graced the stage with their performances before the eagerly awaited announcement. To honour Arctic Monkeys and Fred Again, who were both absent due to tour commitments, and J Hus, who couldn’t attend due to illness, captivating live performance films were showcased on screen.

Bandleader Femi Koleoso, brimming with gratitude, accepted the award and extended heartfelt thanks to God, their families, and dedicated team members. He also reminisced fondly about their beginnings in a youth club before treating the audience to another mesmerising performance.

Ezra Collective comprises Femi Koleoso, bassist TJ Koleoso, keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones, saxophonist James Mollison, and trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi. Their remarkable journey in music includes the release of their debut album, “You Can’t Steal My Joy,” in 2019, followed by the captivating “Where I’m Meant to Be” in November 2022.

The Mercury Prize 2023 featured an eclectic array of talent, with the following albums making the shortlist:

  1. Arctic Monkeys – “The Car”
  2. Ezra Collective – “Where I’m Meant to Be”
  3. Fred Again – “Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9, 2022)”
  4. J Hus – “Beautiful And Brutal Yard”
  5. Jessie Ware – “That! Feels Good!”
  6. Jockstrap – “I Love You Jennifer B”
  7. Lankum – “False Lankum”
  8. Loyle Carner – “Hugo”
  9. Olivia Dean – “Messy”
  10. Raye – “My 21st Century Blues”
  11. Shygirl – “Nymph”
  12. Young Fathers – “Heavy Heavy”

Speaking with Sky News prior to the ceremony, Femi Koleoso highlighted the significance of introducing their style of music to a broader audience. He remarked, “You can’t help but type your name into X and see what people are saying, and there’s been a bunch of people saying things along the lines of, ‘never heard of a jazz band or this jazz band before, never listened to a jazz album before, but I can’t believe it, I actually liked it,’ and that’s exciting.”

Jessie Ware, a nominee for the second time, reflected on her musical journey and the sense of community she has found through her music. She shared, “I found my place in music – maybe it’s from raving when I was younger and that feeling of community on the dance floor, and I’ve found the most beautiful community in my fans, and I’m having a good time.”

Raye, who recently embarked on a new musical journey by leaving her label to release her first album, expressed her gratitude. She said, “Being here today, it just takes me back to two years ago or whatever where I was so disappointed in myself as an artist – I was the opposite of what I feel like I am now… I didn’t ever think I would get the chance to almost start again or go again.”

This year’s panel of judges featured esteemed figures from the music industry, including former nominees Anna Calvi and Hannah Peel, as well as musician Jamie Cullum, broadcaster and DJ MistaJam, and music critic Will Hodgkinson.

Since its inaugural year in 1992, the Mercury Prize has been a beacon for celebrating British and Irish musical talent. Recognising the twelve best albums of the year across diverse genres, the award has introduced groundbreaking records and artists to a broader audience. The Mercury Prize is renowned for championing artists at all stages of their careers, from emerging talents to established veterans, often catapulting lesser-known artists into the spotlight. Recent winners include Primal Scream, Little Simz, Arlo Parks, Michael Kiwanuka, Dave, and Wolf Alice.


Source: Sky News

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