US songwriter, Russian soprano win 2020 Polar Music Prizes

Alfons Karabuda, chairman of the Polar Music Prize jury, announces the 2020 Polar Music Prize winners Tuesday in Stockholm, Sweden.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — American songwriter Diane Warren and Russian soprano Anna Netrebko are the winners of this year’s Polar Music Prizes, the Swedish award often described as the Nobel Prizes of music.

The judging panel for the 2020 prizes announced Tuesday called Warren “a master of writing for the human voice” and said her songs “embody the rare combination of being catchy and yet complex enough to be heard hundreds of times”

“Diane Warren is the reigning Queen of the American popular song,” it added in its citation.

Warren who has written songs for multiple singers, as well as for several films has “perfected the art of the power ballad. “As a singer, to be given a Diane Warren song, is a gift.”

The Polar Music Prize panel paid tribute to Netrebko as “a larger-than-life singer who keeps the classics alive, sells out every performance and also catches the attention of audiences new to opera.”

“When Anna Netrebko performs, it’s impossible to look away,” they wrote.

Previous laureates include Sting, Patti Smith, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell, bands including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Metallica, and conductors Pierre Boulez and Mstislav Rostropovich.

Receiving the award “is a big honor,” Netrebko said in a statement issued by the panel. Warren added that finding herself among past recipients and being in “that company is mind-blowing.”

The winners will each receive a cash prize of 1 million kronor ($103,520). The award ceremony is in Stockholm on June 9.

The Polar Music Prizes typically recognize one classical artist and one contemporary musician each year. The awards were founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, the late manager of the Swedish pop group ABBA, have been handed out since 1992.

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