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‘Le Freak’s Nile Rodgers wins Swedish music prize

US disco legend Nile Rodgers, whose hits include “Le Freak” and “Good Times”, won Sweden’s 2024 Polar Music Prize.

Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen (L) and US disco legend Nile Rodgers
Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen (L) and US disco legend Nile Rodgers - Copyright AFP/File Gregg Newton
Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen (L) and US disco legend Nile Rodgers - Copyright AFP/File Gregg Newton

US disco legend Nile Rodgers, whose hits include “Le Freak” and “Good Times”, won Sweden’s 2024 Polar Music Prize with Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, the jury said on Tuesday.

Marie Ledin, managing director of the prize, called Rodgers “a ground-breaking pioneer”.

Rodgers, 71, and Bernard Edwards, who made up the band Chic, co-wrote “Le Freak” about not getting into a 1977 New Year’s Eve party at New York City’s hip disco Club 54, despite a special invitation from legendary singer-supermodel Grace Jones.

The song went on to become the biggest selling single in the history of the iconic Atlantic Records label.

Rodgers has also collaborated with, and produced songs for, some of the biggest stars in the music industry.

They include Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”, Diana Ross’ “Upside Down”, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.

“Nile’s impact in pop culture is incomparable and his timeless songs will continue to delight, uplift and inspire for many years to come,” Ledin said.

His songs are “so well-crafted that they will outlive us all”, the jury said in its citation.

– Perfectly balanced –

The prize jury hailed Salonen — whose titles include music director of the San Francisco Symphony and Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra in London — as “an innovator”.

“His artistic curiosity, creativity and forward-thinking approach to composing and conducting paves the way in classical music.

“He is a master of tone, perfectly balancing sound and emotion to produce and lead music that deeply moves the listener,” Ledin said.

Salonen’s compositions range from large-scale works for orchestra to virtuoso works for solo instrumentalists and chamber ensembles, as well as film scores.

The laureates will receive their award, which includes a cash prize of one million kronor ($98,000), at a ceremony in Stockholm on May 21.

The Polar Prize was established in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, manager of Swedish pop superstars ABBA, and selects two or three laureates each year.

Last year, it honoured singer Angelique Kidjo from Benin, along with Britain’s Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, and Estonian composer Arvo Part.

Past winners have included Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, Grandmaster Flash, Metallica, the Afghan National Institute of Music, Sting, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar and Dizzy Gillespie.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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