Soulful British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks has won the prestigious Mercury Prize for her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams. The 21-year-old Londoner beat acts including singer Celeste, rapper Ghetts and bands Wolf Alice and Mogwai to the 25,000-pound ($30,000) prize, which recognizes the outstanding British or Irish album of the year.
Parks, who won the best new artist award at this year’s Brit Awards, cites an eclectic array of musical inspirations, including Harry Styles, Frank Ocean, Solange and Massive Attack. The judging panel said the album “captured the spirit of the year” and addressed “such complex issues as mental health and sexuality with real empathy, displaying a lyrical wisdom that belied her 21 years.”
Accepting the award late Thursday (Sept. 9) , Parks said “it took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get here and there were moments where I wasn’t sure whether I would make it through — but I am here today so thank you very much.” Established in 1992 and open to acts from Britain and Ireland, the Mercury Prize often favors the eclectic and the innovative over better-known performers. Previous winners include Michael Kiwanuka, Skepta, James Blake and Arctic Monkeys.