Ezra Collective jazz quintet wins 2023 Mercury Prize

Femi Koleoso, far right, with Ezra Collective Photo:Aliyah Otchere

Ezra Collective has emerged victorious at the 2023 Mercury Prize with their mesmerising sophomore album, Where I’m Meant to Be

According to reports, the prestigious award, celebrating exceptional British and Irish musical talent across diverse genres, announced the British-Nigerian jazz sensation’s triumph on September 7th at the iconic Hammersmith Apollo in London. 

This historic win makes Ezra Collective the first jazz group to clinch the Mercury Prize.

Amidst the applause, Ezra Collective not only claimed the coveted winner’s trophy but also secured a £25,000 prize. To the delight of fans, they graced the stage to perform a track from their award-winning album.

Ezra Collective’s remarkable journey includes signing with Partisan Records last year, joining a roster featuring luminaries like Nigeria’s Femi and Made Kuti, Nigerien virtuoso Bombino, and Tunisian singer-songwriter and producer Emel Mathlouthi.

Bandleader Femi Koleoso, in his acceptance speech, expressed gratitude, highlighting the band’s origins in a youth club. He emphasised the importance of dedicated individuals nurturing young talent in music.

The Mercury Prize judging panel released a statement praising the band’s virtuosity, community spirit, and their ability to infuse joy into their music. Where I’m Meant to Be stands as a testament to the resurgence of British jazz over the past decade, blending reggae, soul, Latin and Afrobeats influences.

Ezra Collective now joins the illustrious list of Mercury Prize winners, including Michael Kiwanuka, Little Simz and Arlo Parks, cementing their legacy in the vibrant tapestry of contemporary music.


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