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Welsh Music Prize 2021: Kelly Lee Owens wins for ‘Inner Song’

"I'm so passionate about Wales and I want everyone to know where I'm from."

By Grace Almond

Press photo of Kelly Lee Owens turning to one side, wearing a yellow top and a black leather jacket.
Owens was speechless when she accepted the award, calling it “the greatest honour”. Credit: Press/ Kim Hiorthøy

Flintshire’s Kelly Lee Owens has won the coveted 2021 Welsh Music Prize for her 2020 album, ‘Inner Song’.

The electronic musician and producer beat 11 other nominees to the top spot, including Gruff Rhys with ‘Seeking New Gods’, Mace The Great with ‘My Side Of The Bridge’ and Gwenifer Raymond’s album, ‘Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain’.

The shortlist was whittled down from 129 albums, and chosen by a judging panel of music industry experts. Many previous winners of the prize have gone on to achieve international success. Last year, Deyah won the award with ‘Care City’.

This year saw the ceremony take place in person in Cardiff for its 11th awards, after an online ceremony last year. It featured a performance by Juice Menace, who was revealed as one of the winners of the Triskel Award.

Owens is currently on tour, and so could not attend the event in person. Accepting the award (and a cash prize of £10,000) via Zoom, the producer said she was “over the moon”: “It feels amazing. As a Welsh artist, to be recognised by your country, ultimately for me, is the greatest honour.”

“I’m so passionate about Wales and I want everyone to know where I’m from.”

“I remember last time when I was nominated, my nana Jeanette came down and since then she has passed away and she’d be so thrilled, I’m sorry I’m emotional – but she’s on the album and she’d be so chuffed. Thank you so much.”

Co-founder of the prize, radio presenter Huw Stephens, said of the result: “We are thrilled for Kelly Lee Owens. The judges were all astounded by this album. Kelly Lee Owens has been so critically acclaimed for this record, and we are so happy that she is the 2021 Welsh Music Prize winner.”

In September 2020, Owens released the music video for her track, ‘Corner Of My Sky’, featuring musician and composer John Cale. The hilarious video starred Welsh actor Michael Sheen and Conor Kennedy, and saw Sheen discover a magical toaster. 

Owens’ tour continues tonight (November 24) at the O2 Institute in Birmingham, and concludes at Manchester’s Warehouse Project on December 4 this year, where she will support Belfast-born/London-based duo Bicep.