This evening, hip-hop pioneer, Joseph Saddler, known as Grandmaster Flash, world-renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and music charity, The Playing For Change Foundation, have been presented with the Polar Music Prize, the world’s most prestigious award for music.

King Carl XVI Gustaf presented the Awards and the citations were read by: DJ Maseo, for Grandmaster Flash, Frank Briegmann for Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Dr Ahmad Sarmast from ANIM, the 2018 Polar Music Prize Laureate, for Playing For Change. The Gala Prize Ceremony and banquet was held at The Grand Hotel Stockholm.

Grandmaster Flash, on receiving the award, said:
“I want to say thank you for inviting our culture to this wonderful gathering. I come from a very small place called The Bronx…this thing that I did had not existed before and I am one of many where I come from. It ended up being called hip-hop, taking the drum break from pop, rock, jazz, blues, funk, disco, R+B, and using duplicate copies of records…I would take one section and repeat it over and over again. This self made music bed served for the breakdancers, and later, for the MC’s…I accept this award in honor of every DJ, every rapper, every graffiti artist, every breakdancer.

“I must say I’ve received many awards in my lifetime, but this one here is the most special because you guys took time to take me apart. To find out how I was thinking. So I say to the Polar Prize, thank you so much.”

Anne Sophie Mutter, said:
“I am simply overwhelmed by the honour and acknowledgment which you, who are responsible for the Polar Music Prize, are bestowing upon me. This distinction fills me with pride and joy, as you are permitting me to join the ranks of the wonderful musicians who have previously received the prize. I admire many of them profoundly, for example Witold Lutosławski, Sofia Gubaidulina, Ennio Morricone, Dizzy Gillespie and Mstislav Rostropovich, to name just a few.

“My special thanks on this day, however, are due to the incomparable Astrid Lindgren. Her Pippi Longstocking has been a role model for me since my childhood. Like no other literary figure, this red-haired girl showed me that females can be active and self-determined, finding their own path with creativity and wit. Living her own dreams, and daring to be different: at the time when I first read the Pippi Longstocking stories, that was not taken for granted when it came to girls and women. And, from a global perspective, it is still not to be taken for granted.”

Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, co-founders of The Playing for Change Foundation, were both in attendance to accept the foundation’s award. Whitney Kroenke said: “We are so humbled to accept this award in the company of so many artists and heroes of ours, each that have inspired us and the work we do at Playing For Change.”

Mark Johnson added: “We stand here today representing our shared dream…Thanks to all of you and to the Polar Prize for sharing this same dream and for honoring us with this amazing award. We dedicate it to the human race. The one group we are all a part of.”

The event is broadcast live on Swedish national television (TV4) at 8pm CET and can be viewed throughout Europe via TV4 Play. Each Laureate receives prize money of one million Swedish Kronor. (approx. GB £90,000 / US $130,000).