Process by Sampha, has won the 2017 Hyundai Mercury Prize Award. After what presenter Laure Laverne described as the “longest deliberation ever in the history of the prize”, actor and the evening’s special guest presenter Idris Elba revealed the winner on the evening of Thursday, 14 September.
The South London-based singer, songwriter and producer who has collaborated with Drake and Kanye West said “I feel like I’m dreaming!” as he accepted the award. Sampha then thanked his parents for giving him and his family “the best possible upbringing” and returned to the stage at London’s Hammersmith Eventim Apollo to perform ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’ from his debut album.
Process, Sampha’s debut album, was released in February through the Young Turks imprint. It beat off strong challenges for the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize from nominees including Ed Sheeran’s ÷, Kate Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos, Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer, Blossoms’ self-titled debut and How To Be A Human Being, the much-fancied album from Glass Animals.
The nominees all performed live, save for Ed Sheeran, who sent a message of thanks via video from Miami.
Idris Elba said of the event: “The Hyundai Mercury Prize is a huge moment in the music calendar and I’m so happy to be involved. It is so important that we continue to celebrate the album as a work of art and this is a special night to celebrate the incredible shortlisted artists.”
Previous winners to appear on the 2017 list include The xx, who won with their self-titled debut album in 2010, and alt-J, who took home the prize in 2012. Also representing the indie genre in 2017 were The Big Moon, with their debut Love In The 4th Dimension, while this year’s jazz-related nominees were Dinosaur, a four-piece ensemble led by trumpet player Laura Jurd.
Numerous landmark albums have previously won the coveted Mercury Music Prize. Primal Scream won the inaugural award in 1992 with Screamadelica, while other notable winners include Portishead’s Dummy (1995), Roni Size & Reprazent’s New Forms (1997), PJ Harvey’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (2001) and Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
Last year, Skepta won the prestigious award with his album Konnichiwa – the first grime artist to win since Dizzee Rascal in 2003 with Boy In Da Corner.