Ezra Collective have won the Mercury Prize for the best British or Irish album of the last 12 months.
The jazz quintet won the £25,000 prize for their album ‘Where I’m Meant To Be’ at the Eventim Apollo in London on Thursday night (07.09.23).
After collecting their award, Femi Koleoso, the group’s lead drummer, said on stage: “Wow. Wow. First of all, let me thank God, because if a jazz band winning the Mercury Prize doesn’t make you believe in God, I don’t know what will. Do you hear what I’m saying?
“Secondly, I need to thank … it’s five of us her represented right now, but Ezra Collective represent an entire family, do you hear what I’m saying?”
Femi also praised the efforts of organisations throughout the UK who support young musicians.
He said: “Ezra Collective represent something very special because we met in a youth club, do you hear what I’m saying? This moment that we’re celebrating right here is testament to good, special people putting time and effort into young people to play music.
“Right now, this is not just a result for Ezra Collective, this is not just a result for UK jazz, but this is a special moment for every single organisation across the country ploughing their efforts and time into young people playing music.”
The group – who wrote and recorded their award-winning album amid the COVID-19 lockdown – overcame competition from the likes of Jessie Ware, J Hus, Arctic Monkeys, Fred Again and Raye to win the coveted award.
The show – which was hosted by broadcaster Lauren Laverne – featured live performances from nine of the shortlisted artists, including rapper Loyle Carner and soul singer Olivia Dean.