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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
'Inspiring' women net Swedish prize
Presenter Eugene Skeef  and South African singer Miriam Makeba
Makeba's records were banned in the 1960s
South African singer Miriam Makeba and Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina have won this year's Polar Music Prize.

The prestigious Swedish prize is worth 1 million kronor (69,400) to each winner.

Makeba, 70, whose 1967 hit Pata Pata was the first African song to reach the American Top 10 charts, and Gubaidulina, also 70, received their prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf.

You inspired and electrified black township audiences

Desmond Tutu

The annual Polar Prize was founded in 1989 to honour exceptional achievements that transcend music genres and break down musical boundaries.

It is described in Sweden as the "Nobel prize of music" and was established by the late Stikkan Anderson, whose record company released the songs of Swedish supergroup Abba.

Last year's winners were US songwriter Burt Bacharach, German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog.

Previous winners include Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Elton John and Ravi Shankar.

Both women were celebrated at the award ceremony in Sweden for overcoming oppression.

Makeba's records were banned in South Africa in 1963 after she testified before the UN Committee Against Apartheid.

King Carl XVI Gustaf
King Carl XVI Gustaf presented the prizes
South African archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu told Makeba: "You inspired and electrified black township audiences and later wowed international audiences as you made them learn exotic click sounds."

Gubaidulina has been composing since 1963. She was praised by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music for her "intensely expressive and deeply personal musical idiom".

Gubaidulina studied at the Moscow Conservatory starting in 1954 and in 1975 co-founded the Astreya Ensemble.

The ensemble specialised in improvising on rare Russian, Caucasian, Central Asian and East Asian folk music and ritual instruments.

She moved to Germany in 1992 and lives near Hamburg.

See also:

15 May 01 | Entertainment
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
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