Kamasi Washington's 'The Epic' Wins Inaugural American Music Prize

Mike Park
Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington is the winner of the inaugural American Music Prize for his album The Epic.

Washington collected the $25,000 grand prize attached to the AMP, which recognizes the best debut album released by an American artist between Aug. 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015.

Azealia Banks, Chris Stapleton, Leon Bridges Shortlisted for American Music Prize

The saxophonist rose from obscurity with his triple-CD John Coltrane-inspired, soulful jazz-crossover set and played a big hand in the creation of Kendrick Lamar's Grammy-winning, Billboard 200 chart-topping hit To Pimp a Butterfly.

A grateful Washington said “I poured my heart and soul into my album” after his name was called out Wednesday. “The celebration of music, art, and creativity is so important and to be recognized as such a central part of that celebration is very humbling. I’m so full with excitement and truly inspired for what the future holds! So thank you to the judges, all my fans, loves ones, my amazing team, and the musicians who continue to push and create with me.” The AMP winning album and the 11 other shortlisted recordings were celebrated Wednesday night at a function in Nashville. 

On my way with pops to Nashville for the American Music Prize award, I am so honored!! Thank you Scott, judges and...

Posted by Kamasi Washington on Wednesday, 2 March 2016


Recordings by Azealia Banks, Benjamin Booker, Chris Stapleton and Leon Bridges were among the top of the class for the AMP, which is spearheaded by Scott B. Murphy, who launched the annual Australian Music Prize back in 2005 (the latest winner for which will be announced next Wednesday in Sydney). 

“I applaud the judging team,” commented Murphy following Washington's victory. “It’s no easy job sifting through hundreds of albums to extract a shortlist and then, from that shortlist of 12 truly great albums, choose a winner. This they have done and The Epic is a deserving choice. Well done Kamasi and thank you judges.”