Sampha, the London-born singer, songwriter and producer known for scene-stealing collaborations with the likes of Drake, Beyoncé and Kanye West, is the recipient of the 2017 Hyundai Mercury Prize, the prestigious album of the year award honoring musicians from Britain and Ireland, for his debut LP “Process.”
The album prevailed in a stylistically diverse and closely competitive field, which included entries from the international pop juggernaut Ed Sheeran, the grime contender Stormzy and brooding, indie rock auteurs the xx.
In a February profile in The New York Times, Sampha said that he wrote the album while caring for his mother, who had cancer, and completed it after she died in 2015. His father had died from the disease nearly a decade earlier. Songwriting, he said, “helped to sort of realize the gravitas of things and helped me reconnect and empathize with my mom.”
The Mercury Prize comes with an award of 25,000 British pounds (about $34,000) and is given by a rotating panel of judges. The prize is granted based “solely on the quality of the music,” its organizers say, and industry professionals, such as record label executives and managers, do not participate.
This year’s judges included the journalists Phil Alexander and Harriet Gibsone, and the musicians Marcus Mumford, Jessie Ware and Lianne La Havas.
Sampha — who joins recent Mercury laureates including the grime rapper Skepta, the experimental trio Young Fathers and the electronic musician James Blake — accepted the award with the kind of understated grace admirers have cited in his music.
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