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Looking back: The Ivor Novello Awards

As part of The Ivors Academy's #WouldHaveBeenTheIvors campaign, we're taking a look back at PRS for Music's long history with the award ceremony.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 21 May 2020
  • min read

In a world without COVID-19, today (21 May) would have seen the annual Ivor Novello Award ceremony taking place. 

PRS for Music has had a long-established relationship with The Ivors since its inception in 1956. Named after composer and PRS member, Ivor Novello, the accolade continues to shine a light on outstanding songwriting and composition to this day.

This relationship continues in 2020 with PRS for Music returning as the title sponsor of the PRS for Music Most Performed Work Award and the PRS for Music Icon Award (previously named Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award).

Nominees for the PRS for Music Most Performed Work 2019 will be announced on Monday 20 July.

Justin Hayward at The Ivors in 2013, interviewed by M Magazine.

Critically acclaimed songwriters and composers from Stephen Sondheim to Lionel Richie, to Kate Bush, Madonna and Ed Sheeran have all won Ivor Novello Awards, the highest accolade in songwriting and screen composition.

The only prize to be judged exclusively by fellow music creators and presented by The Ivors Academy, the awards are the pinnacle in the careers of many in the songwriting and composing field.

Gary Barlow is the only songwriter to have won three PRS-supported Ivor Novello awards, spanning three decades, for his widely celebrated work with Take That. He has received the Most Performed Work award twice, for Back for Good in 1996 and Shine in 2008, and he received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award in 2012 alongside his Take That band mates Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange.
Ed Sheeran at The Ivors in 2012, interviewed by M Magazine. 

Other songwriters and composers who have won the PRS Most Performed Work Award more than once include Cathy Dennis for her work on Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head in 2002 and Britney Spears’ Toxic in 2005, William Orbit for his work on Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger in 2000 and All Saints’ Pure Shores in 2001, and Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass and Robert Manzoli for the Right Said Fred hits I’m Too Sexy in 1992 and Deeply Dippy in 1993.

The PRS for Music Special International Award is the only Ivor Novello Award independently presented to an international writer, recognising those whose work has left an indelible mark on British music. Winners have included Nile Rodgers (2014), Mariah Carey (2019) and the legendary Bill Withers (2017), who sadly passed away in April this year.

Speaking to M about his songwriting in 2017, Bill said: 'I don’t have any particular technique. I don’t know an F-sharp from Ninth Street. I don’t want to know. That wasn’t my approach. I only need to be musical enough to make a package to wrap my poetry.'

Richard Ashcroft at The Ivors 2019.

Andrea C. Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music, said: 'Although we can’t come together to congratulate the nominees, let’s use this day to remember the fantastic creative talent that drives our industry and look forward to honouring the winners when they are announced on 2 September. Let’s stand together for songwriters, composers and publishers, all of whom are admired and respected the world over.' 

This year's award winners will be announced on 2 September 2020.

 Watch more PRS for Music Ivors interviews.

Listen to The Ivors Academy’s award playlists on Apple Music.