Grandmaster Flash wins Polar Music Prize

Hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash was awarded Sweden’s Polar Music Prize on Wednesday, together with German violinist Ann-Sophie Mutter and the Playing for Change Foundation.

Founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, publisher and manager of the Swedish band ABBA, previous winners of the 1 million Swedish crowns ($108,606) prize include Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Elton John and Metallica.

“It is such an honor, because a lot of times in our culture, what we do as DJs gets overlooked,” Grandmaster Flash, whose real name is Joseph Saddler, said in a statement.

“So for these people to say, let’s give this to someone who doesn’t necessarily use a microphone as their gift … for me to be picked out of so many people, I am so, so deeply honored.”

The 60-year-old is the first hip hop artist to win the award.

“Grandmaster Flash is a scientist and a virtuoso who has demonstrated that turntables and mixing consoles can be musical instruments,” the jury said.

“His adventures at the turntables – ‘the Adventures of the Wheels of Steel’ – changed the course of popular music.”

The Playing For Change Foundation provides music and arts education for underprivileged children around the world.

It was only the second time that three laureates have been chosen in a single year.

The prize’s stated goal is to “break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music”.