The origins of the Polar Music Prize trace back to Abba’s triumphant victory at the 1974 Eurovision Contest. Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, Abba’s manager and lyricist, orchestrated the creation of the award. After selling his production and music management companies to Polygram in 1989, Anderson allocated MSEK 42 (millions of Swedish krona) from the deal to establish this prestigious music accolade.
The Polar Music Prize operates with an independent board, featuring members from Anderson’s family and global luminaries. The list of honorees, receiving the certificate from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, boasts an eclectic array of artists, from Ligeti and Arvo Pärt to Metallica, Peter Gabriel, and Angélique Kidjo. Sting was a dual recipient in 2017, and the celebratory event in Stockholm held a surprise for the Englishman.
Annie Lennox took the stage to perform Sting’s “Fragile,” a deeply moving track inspired by the tragic death of American civil engineer Ben Linder in Nicaragua. YouTube comments express the emotional impact of Lennox’s rendition, praising her talent and the poignant nature of the tribute to Sting.
Sting’s recognition by The Polar Music Prize highlighted his outstanding contributions to music and his unwavering commitment to promoting human rights. The award committee emphasized Sting’s role as a global citizen, utilizing his position as an arena-filling artist to champion important causes.
The Polar Music Prize consistently acknowledges diversity and musical range, with multiple awards given each year. In 2011, recipients included the Kronos Quartet and Patti Smith, while 2022 honored the Ensemble Intercontemporain and Iggy Pop. The 2017 ceremony, honoring both Sting and Wayne Shorter, exemplified the commitment to recognizing different genres.
Wayne Shorter, a towering figure in jazz history, was celebrated for his pivotal role in epoch-making groups like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis’s second great Quintet, and Weather Report. His enduring compositions and musical explorations have left an indelible mark on the history of jazz.
As a nod to the spirit of the Polar Music Prize and the profound impact of Wayne Shorter, let’s conclude with a glimpse into the accolade’s profile on this jazz saxophonist. Enjoy the musical journey of a true legend.