Sting, the internationally renowned singer-songwriter, and Wayne Shorter, the globally revered saxophonist and composer, have been named the 2017 Polar Music Prize Laureates. The announcement was made a few minutes ago at Stockholm City Hall by Alfons Karabuda, chairman of the Prize committee. Sting and Shorter will accept their prizes from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on June 15.
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, the manager and music publisher of ABBA. A well-known lyricist, he also was the co-writer on many of their early hits. The prize was first presented in 1992.
Sting was a charter member of the Police, the U.K. alternative rock band that first gained attention in the U.S. with the single “Roxanne” in 1979. They broke into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 the following year with “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da.” In 1983, they topped the singles chart for eight weeks with “Every Breath You Take.”
In 1985, Sting kicked off his solo career with the album The Dream of the Blue Turtles. His latest release, 57th and 9th, last November became his 10th top 10 album on the Billboard 200 chart.
After a five-year stint in Art Blakely’s band, Miles Davis recruited Shorter to join his quintet. Shorter wrote many of the songs Davis recorded and also signed with Blue Note as a solo artist. From 1970 to 1985, Shorter was in a jazz group he co-founded, the critically acclaimed Weather Report. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan and Carlos Santana.
Shorter has been a frequent visitor to Sweden and tells Billboard he is looking forward to returning there in June for the prize ceremony. “I first traveled there in 1959 with Art Blakely’s Jazz Messengers. My first impression was that it was like being in a storybook. We played concert halls in Stockholm and Gothenburg and then the tour continued in Norway, France and Germany.”
Sting and Shorter both said they are honored to be receiving the Polar Music Prize. “I still maintain a childlike curiosity about music, along with a sense that I constantly need to work at it,” said the British musician. “So to be recognized in this way is truly meaningful. I am looking forward to coming to Sweden in June for this special evening.”
Shorter said, “I’m looking forward to accepting [the prize] in Sweden, a country that has produced some great musicians and composers who have inspired the world. It’s another great adventure for me, during a life where I’ve always chosen the trail less traveled because it always takes you to more interesting discoveries.”
Marie Ledin, managing director of the Polar Music Prize, said, “In Sting and Wayne Shorter we have two Laureates whose music continues to move, enthrall and influence millions of music fans around the world. Both are true music legends and embody the spirit of the Polar Music Prize.”
Previous winners of the Polar Music Prize include Elton John, Ray Charles, Ravi Shankar, Ennio Morricone, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Renée Fleming, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Isaac Stern, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Gilberto Gil, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King, Emmylou Harris, Yo-Yo Ma, Patti Smith, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Dizzy Gillespie, Youssou N’Dour, Max Martin and Bruce Springsteen.