Benjamin Clementine, the singer-songwriter from north London on whom we first reported last January, won the prestigious 2015 Mercury Prize last night (21 November) for his debut album At Least For Now. In an emotional acceptance speech at the BBC Radio Theatre, Clementine dedicated the award to the victims of the attacks in Paris, where he was a homeless busker for three years earlier in his 20s.
Clementine, now 26, took the coveted “album of the year” accolade from the panel of 12 industry judges, ahead of releases by Florence + the Machine, Gaz Coombes, Roisin Murphy and Wolf Alice. “I always wanted to be nominated for this award, but I didn’t think to myself that I’d win it,” Clementine told the BBC. “I always made a joke about it…it goes to show that you’ve just got to be sincere in your work and people will listen.”
The judging panel for this year’s Mercury Prize included musicians Nick Mulvey, Anna Calvi and Corinne Bailey Rae, The Independent newspaper music editor Elisa Bray, NME.com editor Greg Cochrane, Xfm radio presenter John Kennedy and, as ever, chairman Simon Frith.
At Least For Now was released in March to considerable acclaim among music critics, and is now assured of a strong chart presence. By this morning (Saturday), it was already showing in the top 20 of iTunes’ Top Albums chart in the UK.
Listen to At Least For Now on Spotify