James Blake, alumni of Goldsmiths, University of London in Lewisham, has won this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize with his second album, “Overgrown”, beating David Bowie and the Arctic Monkeys.
Blake had been nominated for the prize in 2011 for his self-titled debut album. He triumphed this year, beating bookies’ favourite Laura Mvula. Despite being put down as an outsider with odds of 25/1, the 25-year-old Londoner collected the £20,000 prize and trophy.
During his acceptance speech Blake said: “I’m going to thank my parents for showing me the importance of being self-sufficient.”
Simon Deacon, Programme Convenor for the BMus Popular Music course at Goldsmiths, who taught Blake said: “I can’t say his musical style developed because of the course, but it did develop during his period at Goldsmiths. He wrote his first album while he was at Goldsmiths.
“He was beginning to develop his sound between second and third year. I felt there was something very special about what I was hearing.”
He added: “James Blake winning the prize gives students aspiration because it shows a very clear visceral route from getting onto a course with a good reputation, through the motion of training and to the potential of the future.”
Ruthie Woodward, General Manager of New Cross Records and a graduate from the same course Blake attended said: “His winning the prize is important because I think it makes people realise how good the course is. We’re trying to show the world that this is how pop music should be and how the music industry should be.”
Other nominees included Jake Bugg, Disclosure, Foals, Rudimental and Villagers.
The Mercury Prize is known for exposing up and coming musicians from Britain and Ireland.