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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
PJ Harvey wins Mercury prize
PJ Harvey's album was critically acclaimed
PJ Harvey has won the most wide-open Mercury music prize for many years and is the first female artist to have won the title in its 10-year history.

The singer-songwriter scooped Britain's most prestigious music prize for the album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea but was not present to collect a cheque for 20,000.

Zoe Ball and Jo Wiley
Zoe Ball and Jo Wiley present the award
The singer is trapped in Washington DC, following the recent terrorist attacks in the US.

She joins Talvin Singh, Badly Drawn Boy and Gomez who have all won the award in previous years.

'Absolutely stunned'

In a telephone call to the award ceremony in London on Tuesday evening and referring to the terrorist attacks, she said: "The whole city is in a state of shock.

 Listen to a clip of A Place Called Home taken from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

"It has been a very surreal day. All I can say is thank you very much, I am absolutely stunned."

The Somerset-born singer, who has been nominated for the award on two previous occasions, beat Zero 7, Turin Brakes, Elbow and Radiohead among others to the prize, which often generates plenty of speculation and controversy.

Past Mercury winners
1992 Primal Scream
1993 Suede
1994 M People
1995 Portishead
1996 Pulp
1997 Roni Size & Reprazent
1998 Gomez
1999 Talvin Singh
2000 Badly Drawn Boy
Her album was inspired and titled after recording sessions in Dorset and in New York.

Judges of the prize are known for picking winners who display more originality than commercial success.


Other names on the shortlist were Basement Jaxx, Super Furry Animals and Goldfrapp.

A shortlist of 12 albums was announced in July - but that number decreased after the withdrawal of Gorillaz.

Gorillaz asked to be removed from the shortlist
Many of the artists on the list were not well known and have seen little chart success.

The publicity boost from a Mercury nomination usually guarantees a sales boost of between 20% and 100%.

Last year the 20,000 prize went to Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, for his low-key offering The Hour Of Bewilderbeast.

For the first time this year the event will be broadcast by Channel 4, with a special 90-minute programme to be screened on Wednesday, the night after the ceremony.

As in previous years, the Mercury Prize show will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 1.

PJ Harvey is due to play Glasgow Barrowlands on 26 September, the Manchester Apollo on 28 September and Brixton Academy on 30 September.

PJ Harvey
talks about her shock at winning the award while caught up in US attacks
Last year's winner Badly Drawn Boy
says the ceremony was subdued
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