Kelly Lee Owens unveiled as the winner of the Welsh Music Prize
Kelly Lee Owens’ album Inner Song has been named as the winner of this year’s Welsh Music Prize
The 11th annual music prize sees the artist not only pick up the Welsh music accolade but for the first ever time – a prize of £10,000.
A panel of music industry experts selected the winner from a shortlist of 12 albums, showcasing the range of creative talent in and around Wales.
Although the 33-year-old, from Bagillt, Flintshire, in North Wales, was unable to attend the event due to being on tour, Kelly was speechless when accepting the £10,000 prize from radio presenter Huw Stephens via Zoom.
Watch as Kelly receives the news she is the winner of this year’s Welsh Music Prize
Kelly said: “It feels amazing. As a Welsh artist to be recognised by your country, ultimately for me, is the greatest honour. I’m so passionate about Wales and I want everyone to know where I’m from.
“I remember last time when I was nominated, my nana Jeanette came down and since then she has passed away and she’d be so thrilled, I’m sorry I’m emotional – but she’s on the album and she’d be so chuffed. Thank you so much.”
When asked what she would do with the £10,000 prize money, thanks to funding from Welsh Government, through Creative Wales, Owens replied: “Wales has had a tough time, like everywhere with the coronavirus, so I’d love to give some of it to some charities based in Wales.”
The awards – started by radio presenter Huw Stephens and music consultant John Rostron – was back in-person for the 11th annual awards ceremony and was held at The Gate, in Cardiff – and featured a performance by Juice Menace to a crowd of handpicked guests.
Huw Stephens, the Welsh Music Prize’s co-founder, said: “We are thrilled for Kelly Lee Owens. The judges were all astounded by this album. Kelly Lee Owens has been so critically acclaimed for this record, and we are so happy that she is the 2021 Welsh Music Prize winner.
“We are also thrilled that Creative Wales are giving the £10,000 prize money – this is typical of the warm, supportive music scene in Wales.
“Music from Wales is diverse, and of astounding quality.”
The 12 finalists for the 2021 awards were: Afro Cluster, The Anchoress, Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18, Datblygu, El Goodo, Gruff Rhys, Gwenifer Raymond, Kelly Lee Owens, Mace The Great, Novo Amor, Private World and Pys Melyn.
Speaking of their support of the Welsh Music Prize and the inaugural prize fund, Deputy Director of Creative Wales, Gerwyn Evans, said: “Creative Wales is proud to support the Welsh Music Prize for the third year running. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diversity of genres and artists making such exciting music in Wales today.
“The Welsh Music Prize is a celebration and recognition of excellence and creativity in Welsh music – and I’d like to congratulate Kelly Lee Owens on being named as the winner and I’m confident that the prize fund will contribute to future success.”
Kelly Lee Owens now joins a list of winners that include Deyah (2020), Adwaith (2019), Boy Azooga (2018), The Gentle Good (2017), Meilyr Jones (2016), Gwenno (2015), Joanna Gruesome (2014), Georgia Ruth (2013), Future of the Left (2012) and Gruff Rhys (2011).
Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer at PPL, said: “Congratulations to Kelly Lee Owens for winning the prestigious Welsh Music Prize. This year’s Prize and the array of genres recognised reflect the breadth and depth of Welsh music – each artist should be extremely proud to be nominated. It is also a privilege for PPL to showcase these brilliant albums as well as support the Welsh music industry through our valuable royalty payments. We look forward to the next year of Welsh music and the resurgence of the country’s music scene as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.”
This year saw Datblygu take the Welsh Music Inspiration Award. The band – whose lead vocalist David R. Edwards died earlier this year – were awarded for their influence on Welsh-language music and the alternative music scene. The award was accepted by Pat Morgan, and the band follows Meic Stevens, Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney, in winning this award.
The Welsh Music Prize ceremony also revealed Alice Low, Juice Menace and Melin Melyn as this year’s winners of the Triskel Award. The Triskel Award was created by the Welsh Music Prize team in 2019 to celebrate and support three emerging artists that offer a bright future for music in Wales.
With the support of Help Musicians, the artists each receive access to a range of the charity’s support, including: a financial input of £500 towards their music, custom-made high quality hearing protection and two hours of business planning with a music industry expert.
Caroline Hansell, Head of Creative Programme at Help Musicians, said: “The Welsh music scene has shown incredible resilience in the face of Covid, and we’re so pleased to gather together, in-person, to celebrate the Welsh Music Prize again this year.
“As a charity that has been supporting musicians for 100 years, we have never seen the scale of need we have during the pandemic. Help Musicians has been able to support over 19,000 musicians to survive during this difficult time and it’s events like these that remind us how vital it is to ensure our music creators are able to continue.
“Congratulations to all of the nominated artists and the winners, we can’t wait to see you flourish.”
The judging panel for this year’s Welsh Music Prize included: Helen Weatherhead (BBC 6 music producer), Katie Owen (DJ), Sian Eleri Evans (BBC Radio 1 presenter), Kaptin Barret (Boomtown Festival), Andrew Ogun (ACW Agent For Change), Aoife Woodlock (Other Voices Festival) and Tegwen Bruce Deans (music critic).