Five-time Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo has been announced as one of three 2023 Polar Music Prize recipients, putting the Benin-born singer-songwriter in rare company.
Founded in 1989 by ABBA manager Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, the Sweden-based Polar Music Prize has been awarded since 1992 and is considered to be among the most prestigious honours in the music industry. Past winners include Paul McCartney (1992), Elton John (1995), Stevie Wonder (1999), Björk (2010), and Sting (2017).
“Having a beautiful voice is one thing,” Kidjo told CNN’s African Voices in a 2018 interview. “You always have to think about what you want to do with that voice.”
She will join only two previous recipients from the African continent: South Africa’s Miriam Makeba in 2002, and Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour in 2013. Honoured alongside Kidjo this year will be Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records in the UK, and Arvo Pärt of Estonia, the world’s most performed living composer, according to a Polar Music Prize press release.
“To be awarded the Polar Music Prize is humbling,” Kidjo says in the release. “I have no words to say how important this is for me. It comes with a sense of responsibility that is bestowed upon me as an artist to continue to do great work. I will do my best to be a proud recipient of the Prize through my work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, on behalf of the children, and as an ambassador of music, to help create a world in which we can all live in peace.”
The ceremony will take place on May 23 in Stockholm.