South African singer Miriam Makeba and Tatarstani avant garde composer Sofia Gubaidulina have been designated as the winners of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s annual Polar Music Prize. Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf will present the honors at a gala May 27 ceremony in Stockholm.
Gubaidulina is being acknowledged for her “intensely expressive and deeply personal musical idiom [which] has the ability to speak to an ever-growing audience of listeners all over the world,” according to the citation announcing the honor.
Makeba, whose 70th birthday coincided with yesterday’s (March 4) announcement, was noted for “her expressive voice [which] drew attention to the musical riches of the African continent. [While] at the same time, she helped in raising awareness of the horrors of the South African apartheid regime in the outside world.”
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson — publisher, lyricist, and manager of ABBA — and was first awarded in 1992. Anderson donated a large sum of money to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music with the aim of creating the award, which is administered by the organization. Along with the honor, the prize includes an award of 1 million Swedish Crowns ($100,000).
Past recipients of the award include Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Sir Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Pierre Boulez, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Ravi Shankar, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Isaac Stern, Burt Bacharach, and Robert Moog.
For more information, visit the official Polar Music Award Web site.