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Arlo Parks scoops Mercury Prize with debut album

Parks album voted best ahead of tough competition

Arlo Parks has been revealed as the winner of the prestigious 2021 Mercury Music Prize, one of the UK’s leading music awards.

Parks competed for and won the Mercury’s main category – ‘Albums of the Year’ – along with other nominees including Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders, Berwyn, Ghetts and Nubya Garcia, spanning a diverse cast of genres from jazz, R&B, grime, contemporary classical and electronic. 

Parks’ – whose neo-soul hit album ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ won her the prize – has seen a meteoric rise to fame over the course of 2020-21, after she initially began sending her music to BBC Radio 1 Introducing in 2018. Initially inspired by Frank Ocean and King Krule, Parks is known for her contemporary lyrics and warm voice, with many of her songs concerning mental health, body image and sexuality.

Prefacing the win, presenter Annie Mac said: “this is an artist who demonstrates how to be quietly strong in a world of extrovert noise, who expertly reflects the plurality of contemporary British life in their songs.”

In celebration, Parks performed her single ‘Too Good’ to the Mercury Prize attendees. She said: “this is something that came from a lot of hard work from a lot of different people.”

Broadcast this year via BBC One’s The One Show, the Mercury Prize is known for championing the work of leftfield artists. Other nominees for ‘Albums of the Year’ included SAULT’s mysterious neo-soul follow up ‘Untitled (Rise)’, Hannah Peel’s prog-electronic debut ‘Fir Wave’, and Black Country, New Road’s ‘For The First Time’.

The albums shortlist was selected by an extensive judging panel, which includes Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, musician and broadcaster Jamie Cullum, musician and 2020 Mercury Prize winner Michael Kiwanuka, VICE.com editorial director Tshepo Mokoena, and Lanterns on the Lake’s Hazel Wilde.

Past winners of the Mercury Prize include singer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Kiwanuka (2020), the rapper Dave (2019), and the indie band Wolf Alice (2018).For more information, visit: https://www.mercuryprize.com/