Jessie Ware took the stage at the 2023 Mercury Prize awards ceremony at London’s Hammersmith Apollo last night to perform her vibrant single “Free Yourself.” Ware, a nominee for this year’s award, was joined by a band, horns section, and several back-up singers.
The ceremony, which ultimately awarded the Mercury Prize to London group Ezra Collective, featured numerous live performances from the nominees. Raye showcased her soulful, fast-talking track “The Thrill Is Gone” with an expansive band, while Shygirl performed her introspective song “Woe.”
Other nominees included Arctic Monkeys, Olivia Dean, Fred Again, Jockstrap, J Hus, and Loyle Carner. The prize was voted on by judges from across the music industry, including Anna Calvi, Jamie Cullum, Hannah Peel, and Phil Alexander. Arctic Monkeys, J Hus, and Fred Again skipped the ceremony, although the rest of the nominees took the stage. Ezra Collective fittingly performed their song “Victory Dance.”
The Mercury Prize tends to favor less mainstream artists, although last year Harry Styles was among the nominees, who also included Wet Leg and Sam Fender. Little Simz ultimately won for her fourth album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Previous Mercury Prize winners include Pulp, James Blake, Skepta, and PJ Harvey. In 2021, Arlo Parks took home the award for her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams.
Ware released her latest LP, That! Feels Good!, in April. In July, she surprised fans with a new version of her song, “Freak Me Now.” The single, produced by Stuart Price, was a collaboration with electronic pop singer Róisín Murphy and was accompanied by a music video for the track, directed by Sophia Muller and Theo Adams.
The singer will tour in North America in October, with stops in Los Angeles, New York City, Toronto, and more. She will also perform in the U.K. in November, including two shows at London’s Alexandra Palace.