The music world has reacted to the news that 21-year old Arlo Parks has won the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize. With her recent album, Collapsed In Sunbeams’ a title taken from Zadie Smith’s book On Beauty, Parks was declared the overall winner of the coveted UK music award. Past winners have included: Pulp, Skepta, and Arctic Monkeys.
During her acceptance speech, 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’m here today.” Prior to the announcement, she told the crowd that she used to cycle past The Hammersmith Apollo – where the award ceremony was held – on her way to school.
When the news broke, the music world came together to express their support of the young singer-songwriter. Alfie Templeman was just one of the many musicians to congratulate Parks, describing her as “An absolutely incredible artist in every single way. So deserved.” The London Symphony Orchestra, who were nominated for their album Promises with Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders, also congratulated Parks, saying that it was an “honour to be nominated.”
Parks also received praise from Independent Venue Week, for whom she served as an ambassador. The organisation offered her their “hugest congratulations” and described Collapsed In Sunbeams as “an absolutely gorgeous album.” David Wrench, the musician and producer who mixed Parks’ album said it was an “honour to have worked on it.” Other acts who were up for the prize this year included: Ghetts, Wolf Alice, Mogwai, SAULT, and Black Country, New Road.
Annie Macmanus, one of the judges on the panel, said: “It was extremely difficult to choose a winner of the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize. There were so many strong albums, of such diversity and character. But in the end, we decided that Arlo Parks was an extremely worthy winner.” Macmanus went on to describe the motivations behind the panel’s decision: “Addressing such complex issues as mental health and sexuality with real empathy, displaying a lyrical wisdom that belied her 21 years, with Collapsed In Sunbeams Arlo Parks has created an album that has captured the spirit of the year in a positive, forward-thinking fashion.”