To quote from The Guardian:
“I’m over the moon, so so excited,” he said on receiving the prize. “This [prize] is for art, for music, for albums – it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, so to win a Mercury is a dream come true… It’s blown my mind.” He wins £25,000.
His album, released in November 2019, draws equally from folk and soul as the songwriter sings of freedom, love, and struggles both personal and collective; one track samples protests during the 1960s US civil rights movement. It was described in a Guardian review as a “bold, expansive, heartfelt, sublime album. He’s snuck in at the final whistle, but surely this is among the decade’s best.” It reached No 2 on release, and spent 18 weeks in the UK charts.
He thanked his producers, Inflo and Danger Mouse, “some of the best musicians, artists, creatives around, they’ve really helped me grow.” Asked why he given the album his name, he said he had experienced “imposter syndrome … it was taking things away from the experience of doing my dream job. So I made a decision when I was making this album that I wanted to be myself, enjoy it, and not hold back, and show myself as clear as I can be.”
Kiwanuka said an additional reason why his 2019 release title was eponymous was to honor his African heritage.
The Mercury Prize, formerly called the Mercury Music Prize, is an annual music prize awarded for the best album released in the United Kingdom by a British or Irish act.
It was established by the British Phonographic Industry and British Association of Record Dealers, and can significantly effect sales of the artists who win.