Arlo Parks has won the 2021 Mercury Prize, awarded to the year’s most outstanding British album, for her debut Collapsed in Sunbeams.
Presenting the award at the ceremony in London on Thursday night, judge Annie MacManus said: “We chose an artist with a singular voice who uses lyrics of remarkable beauty to confront complex themes of mental health and sexuality, and connects deeply with her generation as she does so.”
Parks, 21, thanked her family and her team, saying: “It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get here, and there were moments where I wasn’t sure I would make it though, so thank you very much.” She wins £25,000.
The singer-songwriter was born in London and is of west African and French heritage. Her album’s intimate and highly empathic songcraft confronts depression (Black Dog, Hope), queer sexuality (Green Eyes, Eugene) and relationship strife throughout, in pithy and vivid character studies. “That sense of rawness is what people are gravitating to”, she told the Guardian in 2020. “I’ve had so many conversations with so many different kinds of people – it’s opened my heart, which is useful when I’m writing songs.”