Grandmaster Flash, one of the architects of hip-hop; Anne-Sophie Mutter, the virtuoso violinist; and Whitney Kroenke and Mark Johnson, co-founders of the Playing for Change Foundation music and arts charity, all accepted the prestigious Polar Music Prize from the hands of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a ceremony held at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm on Tuesday, 11 June. The ceremony was immediately followed by a royal banquet for more than 300 guests.
These Laureates are the latest honorees to win the prize founded by ABBA manager, music publisher and lyricist Stig “Stikkan” Anderson. Anderson petitioned the Nobel Prize committee in the late 1980s to add a music award. When his idea was rejected, Anderson created his own award: the Polar Music Prize.
In accepting the prize, Grandmaster Flash acknowledged his mother for encouraging him to study electronics and his father for inspiring him with his impressive collection of records, which he wasn’t allowed to touch — but did when his dad wasn’t home. Talking about his childhood growing up in the south Bronx, Flash said, “Where I came from … music had no colour. Great music was just great music.”
In her acceptance speech, the German-born Mutter acknowledged Queen Silvia of Sweden as a role model for her work “securing the mental, physical and emotional safety of children,” and then cited another Swedish heroine, author Astrid Lindgren.
“Growing up as an adolescent girl, Pippi Longstocking [was] a role model role in my life — the strong-willed, independent, witty, stubborn young girl … determined to find her own path in a creative way in life and living her own dreams. That was exactly what I wanted, living my own dreams, daring to be different, and at the time I read Pippi Longstocking … that was really not to be taken for granted as a girl and as a woman.”
The citation for Grandmaster Flash, spoken by Vincent Mason, better known as Maseo of the iconic hip-hop trio De La Soul, read in part, “Grandmaster Flash is a scientist and a virtuoso who has demonstrated that turntables and mixing consoles can be musical instruments … [He] changed the course of popular music. Some 40 years later, the musical form and the hip-hop culture that Grandmaster Flash helped to create, in the ruins of the South Bronx in the mid-1970s, has grown into the largest music genre, hip-hop, in the United States and the world.”
The citation for Mutter, spoken by Frank Briegmann, President & CEO Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, read in part, “With her Stradivarius under her chin, Anne-Sophie Mutter is not just one passionate and risk-taking musician — she is also a storyteller. … With her passionate commitment to justice, Mutter demonstrates the power and key role of music in the world.”