Nile Rodgers ‘honoured’ as he picks up Polar prize alongside Finnish composer

Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers said he was “honoured” as he picked up the 2024 Polar Music Prize alongside Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented the two recipients with the award at a gala ceremony held at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm on Tuesday.

Rodgers, 71, said: “I know that music changes lives.

British Summer Time festival – London
Nile Rodgers and Chic perform on stage during the British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park in London in 2022 (Ian West/PA)

“I’ve been told ‘artists are the gatekeepers of truth’.

“I am honoured to be here tonight in such distinguished company.

“Congratulations to the outstanding Esa-Pekka Salonen and all the past recipients of the Polar Music Prize.

“To have been acknowledged in the same way as Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Joni Mitchell, Ennio Morricone and so many more of my heroes is a dream come true.

“I would like to give a very special thanks to the Polar Music Prize for recognising so many artists of colour, and to the people of Sweden for welcoming us with open arms, from Eric Dolphy and Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix, way before most people did.

“I say this from the bottom of my heart, we are family! Thank you.”

The ceremony and banquet was hosted by mezzo-soprano and journalist Boel Adler and the evening featured musical performances from a number of artists including musicians from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Prince Charles visits the Royal College of Music
Pianist Lang Lang and composer-conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen and James MacMillan during a visit by the then Prince of Wales to the Royal College of Music (Arthur Edwards/PA)

The prize, which is often described as the “Nobel Prize of music”, celebrates one contemporary and one classical laureate, who have each been awarded one million Swedish Krona (£73,530).

Rodgers, who is the chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has produced for stars including the late David Bowie, Madonna and Diana Ross, and created disco hits including Le Freak and Everybody Dance with his band Chic.

Salonen, 65, is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony and is the conductor laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by manager of Abba, the late Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, to celebrate excellence in music.

Previous recipients of the prize include Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John.