The nominations for the 2021 Mercury Prize have been announced, with composers, orchestras and BBC names making the cut on this year’s shortlist.
The London Symphony Orchestra has been nominated for its album Promises with electronic musician Floating Points and jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. The orchestra recorded their parts individually during lockdown.
Radio 3 presenter and composer Hannah Peel is also on the shortlist for her album Fir Wave. Peel, who presents Radio 3’s late-night show Night Tracks, was inspired by the patterns created by fir trees on the side of a mountain. The album pays tribute to Delia Derbyshire, the electronic music pioneer who created the Doctor Who theme tune when she was part of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. Peel was given permission by Derbyshire’s estate to reinterpret her 1972 album Electrosonic, generating new sounds with resampled parts of Derbyshire’s music.
Saxophonist, composer and bandleader Nubya Garcia has made this year’s shortlist ahead of her BBC Proms debut this summer. At the Proms, she will be performing tracks from her debut studio album Source, for which she has been nominated.
Classically trained musician Laura Mvula also makes the shortlist. Although in recent years she has turned her hand to composing, having previously composed the music for the 2017 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Antony and Cleopatra in Stratford-upon-Avon. Two of her previous albums as a singer-songwriter, Sing to the Moon and The Dreaming Room, have been nominated for Mercury Prizes in the past. Refusing to buck the trend, her third album Pink Noise is now also up for the prize. Very few other artists have been nominated for their first three albums. Wolf Alice, who is also in this year’s shortlist, is also part of this elite club, as are Coldplay, Anna Calvi and Michael Kiwanuka.
Among last year’s nominees was composer Anna Meredith for her genre-bending album Fibs.
Full Mercury Prize shortlist:
Black Country, New Road: For the First TIme
Celeste: Not Your Muse
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra: Promises
Nubya Garcia: Source
Ghetts: Conflict of Interest
Mogwai: As the Love Continues
Laura Mvula: Pink Noise
Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams
Hannah Peel: Fir Wave
Sault: Untitled (Rise)
Wolf Alice: Blue Weekend