“Tonight’s Mercury Prize event has been postponed at this time of great national sorrow. We know everyone involved in the Mercury Prize will understand. Our thoughts and condolences are with The Royal Family at this very difficult time,” Tweeted the Mercury Prize official Twitter page.
The ceremony was cancelled just hours before the show’s scheduled start time: the Mercury Prize was going to be streamed on BBC Four from 9pm, Buckingham Palace shared the news about the Queen’s death at 6:30pm, and the team behind the ceremony announced the cancellation at 7.17pm – shortly before the event’s dinner was due to start.
The annual music prize is given each year to the Best Album from a British or Irish band. Lauren Laverne was set to host the show, and there were 12 artists in this year’s running, including Joy Crookes for her album Skin, Harry Styles for Harry’s House, and rock duo Wet Leg for their album Wet Leg.
Eleven of the nominated artists were scheduled to perform, with Styles, who is currently on tour in the US, having apparently prerecorded a set that would be shared at the event.
35-year-old musician Self Esteem, who was a frontrunner for her critically acclaimed second album Prioritise Pleasure, was seen walking out of the award show holding a bottle of champagne. The Rotherham-born artist was wearing a black blazer, black tie, a white shirt buttoned up to the top and cut-out circles over her chest.
Last night the artist tweeted, “At least arcade fire got to play tonight f**k this.” The Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire went ahead with their show at The O2 last night.
Self Esteem also spent some of last night getting involved in an initiative to stop the Mercury Prize ceremony’s food from being wasted after the cancellation.
TV critic and broadcaster Scott Bryan explained in a Tweet: “The Mercury Music Prize was suspended this evening and food from the ceremony was going to be thrown away. Self Esteem and others pushed for a fix and thanks to some helpers, meals will be delivered to the homeless.”
In the end, Punjabi restaurant Punjab Covent Garden stepped in to help. Its managing Director, Amrit Maan, was set to pick up and freeze the food last night – and it is set to be distributed today working with charity Under One Sky.
Speaking to NME in July, Self Esteem said: “I’m not being coy, but I can’t believe what’s happened. I’d really made my peace with being consistently underground and under-dogged. Something has happened where people have connected to [the album]. It’s still kind of a slow-burn and slowly growing – it’s not like my life has changed overnight – but my greatest joy is making music.”
There are 12 judges on this year’s panel, including musician Anna Calvi, DJ Annie Mac, musician Jamie Cullum, Times journalist Will Hodgkinson and broadcaster Jamz Supernova, with Jeff Smith, who is head of music at BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music as chairman.
“We feel that these 12 amazing albums each have something to say artistically and socially, all in their own unique, enriching ways. Now comes the really hard part – choosing only one overall winner,” said the judges in a joint statement.
The full shortlist of 2020 nominees:
Fergus McCreadie – Forest Floor
Gwenno – Tresor
Harry Styles – Harry’s House
Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler – For All Our Days That Tear the Heart
Joy Crookes – Skin
Kojey Radical – Reason to Smile
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Nova Twins – Supernova
Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under
Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure
Wet Leg – Wet Leg
Yard Act – The Overload
There are currently no further details about the new date of the ceremony