Benjamin Clementine wins the Mercury Prize 2015: "I was living on the streets"

The singer/pianist/composer bags the coveted prize after a typically dramatic night in London.

Singer/pianist/composer Benjamin Clementine was tonight (November 20) named as the winner of the 2015 Mercury Prize in association with BBC Music, following typically dramatic evening in London.

Clementine's album At Least For Now fought off competition from the likes of Aphex Twin, Florence & the Machine, Supergrass's Gaz Coombes, Roisin Murphy, Slaves and Wolf Alice to win the £20,000 prize.

A newly reshaped event saw all 12 nominated acts gather for a live BBC4 broadcast from the BBC's New Broadcasting House in London, before the panel of judges announced the results of their deliberations. Chairman of the judges Simon Frith said, "There are 12 fantastic albums and getting rid of 11 of them was not an easy process."

After winning the award, Clementine told the gathered media, "I'm so surprised, blown away, it's amazing."

"I can't believe I'm standing there. I really look up to Antony Hegarty who won this in 2000. I just can't believe it."

He dedicated his victory to the people of Paris, where he spent 6 years living, homeless and in shelters before returning to London as a performer.

"I was homeless, busking. I was living on the streets. I learned a lot of things from Paris. I am English but I have to respect Paris."

Describing himself as, "very sad, heartbroken" after last Friday's attacks, he explained that he visited Paris earlier this week to go to the Bataclan venue and pay his respects.

As well as the £20,000 cash prize, among the many benefits of winning the Mercury Prize is often a surge in album sales. The first indication of any boost will show over the coming days, but the album had already sold just under 6,000 copies in the UK before tonight's ceremony.

Since Primal Scream picked up the first Mercury Prize prize in 1992 for their seminal Screamdelica album, 24 different artists have now won the Mercury prize; past winners have included PJ Harvey, Primal Scream, Elbow, The XX, Suede, Dizzee Rascal and Arctic Monkeys.

Click through our gallery of all the past Mercury Prize winners:

 

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Sampha (2017)