Goldsmiths tutor and Hackney based folk musician Sam Lee will find out tonight if he is this year’s winner of the coveted Mercury Prize for music.
Lee is shortlisted for his first LP, Ground of it’s Own, which features songs and styles that come from the Gypsy and Traveller communities and is among a list of nominees that include Django Django, Richard Hawley and Roller Trio.
He has spent two years at Goldsmiths teaching on the college’s undergraduate Popular Music course, the same one studied by last year’s Mercury nominees Katy B and James Blake, both of whom have enjoyed commercial and critical success. Lee has said he is “blown away” by the nomination.
In making the album, Lee spent four years mentored by the late Stanley Robertson, a Scottish Traveller musician who passed on his extensive knowledge of Traveller and Romani songs and musical traditions.
Originally from Tufnell Park north London, Lee still frequents gypsy and traveller communities to gather songs, and learn about the culture they originated in.
If he wins tonight, besides the £20,000 cash prize, Lee will bring extensive recognition to the Gypsy music tradition, and the Folk genre.
The BBC reported that indie rock band Alt-J are bookmakers’ favourites to win the award for their debut album “An Awesome Wave.”
4Music will air the winner’s announcement at 10pm tonight, with the full show airing at 11:35pm on C4.
Last year’s winner of the Mercury Prize was PJ Harvey, who won for the second time, the first being in 2001.