2021 Jazz FM Award winners revealed

Tony Bennett and Courtney Pine among stars honoured at Jazz FM Awards with PPL and PRS for Music.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 28 Oct 2021
  • min read

The Jazz FM Awards with PPL and PRS for Music took place at Under the Bridge in London this evening with a star-studded ceremony that honoured some of the biggest artists from across the jazz, soul and blues spectrum.

Amongst the evening’s highlights were Tony Bennett performing a specially-recorded version of the Way You Look Tonight from his home in New York in recognition of receiving this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Courtney Pine CBE in attendance to collect The Gold Award, and revered UK education and artist development organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors, who celebrated their 30th anniversary this year, picking up The Impact Award.

Tony Bennett said: ‘I listened to jazz musicians to develop my own vocal style. They are such expert craftsmen which allows them to be spontaneous and stay in the moment and always change what they were doing. That really appealed to me and it’s one of the reasons I have gravitated to always having jazz musicians perform and record with me over the years. 

‘I would like to thank all the jazz greats I have worked with over the decades for this honour and thank you to Jazz FM for celebrating this treasured art form.’

Streamed live via Jazz FM’s website, the evening was hosted by UK saxophonist Soweto Kinch and Jazz FM presenter Anne Frankenstein and featured an array of star artists, guests and award-givers including Sir Michael Parkinson, who gave a heartfelt tribute to his longtime friend Tony Bennett, Nick Hornby, Sadiq Khan, Adil Ray OBE, Danny John-Jules, Robert Elms and Johanna Konta.

Additional winners on the night included US pianist and singer Jon Batiste, who received both the Album Of the Year and Soul Act Of the Year awards, legendary alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, who was presented with International Jazz Act Of the Year and trailblazing trumpeter Emma-Jean Thackray, who picked up UK Jazz Act Of the Year. The EFG London Jazz Festival won the Digital Award for last year’s online festival and received a message of congratulations from London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Performances came from Breakthrough Act Of the Year Jas Kayser, Vocalist Of the Year Ego Ella May and an all-star Tomorrow’s Warriors band featuring Gary Crosby OBE, Soweto Kinch, Daniel Casimir, Alex Ho, Maddy Coombs and Romarna Campbell.

Nick Pitts, content director, Jazz FM, said: ‘We’re extremely proud of this year’s event, which once again highlighted the incredible amount of talent, diversity and community spirit that exists within the global jazz scene.  

‘This year’s Jazz FM Awards with PPL and PRS for Music was also something incredibly special because every nominee and eventual winner had worked their hearts out to continue to make the music and the art relevant throughout a terrifying pandemic and difficult period for everyone.  Our congratulations go to every single one of them.

‘I’d also like to thank all of our partners and sponsors who made tonight possible, and of course our listeners for continuing to tune in and make us the UK’s best-loved jazz platform.’

Peter Leathem, chief executive, PPL, said: ‘As supporters of the Jazz FM Awards since launch, we are proud once again to help celebrate the genre’s fantastic array of artistic talent, both from the UK and internationally. To take on our new role of co-headline partners with PRS for Music in a year when both Tony Bennett and Courtney Pine are among the winners is a real honour and we congratulate them both for their special awards. It is also great to see recognition for a new generation of artists who are taking jazz in different directions and making the genre their own.’

Andrea Czapary Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music: ‘On behalf of everyone at PRS for Music, I would like to congratulate all of the winners at this year’s Jazz FM Awards. Across every category, the immense talent of the songwriters and composers in the jazz, soul and blues communities shines through for all to see. Despite the challenges of the pandemic their music has undoubtedly left an indelible mark, inspiring listeners and peers alike, and is a testament to the strength of music creators in the UK and around the world.’

The full list of recipients is as follows:  

Tony Bennett

Courtney Pine CBE

Tomorrow’s Warriors

Jon Batiste - We Are

Ruthie Foster

Jas Kayser

THE DIGITAL AWARD sponsored by Raisin UK
Kansas Smitty’s

THE INNOVATION AWARD sponsored by Mishcon de Reya
EFG London Jazz Festival

Daniel Casimir

Gary Bartz

SOUL ACT OF THE YEAR sponsored by
Jon Batiste

Emma-Jean Thackray

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR sponsored by Hampstead Jazz Club Presents
Ego Ella May