Aretha Franklin and Composer Ellen Reid Win 2019 Pulitzer Prizes for Music


Today, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. Composer and sound artist Ellen Reid has won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. She is being honored for her opera p r i s m. Watch an interview with Reid about the project below. Finalists included James Romig—for his solo piano composition Still—and Andrew Norman, for his orchestral work Sustain.

The late Aretha Franklin was also awarded a “Special Citation,” for “her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”

Ellen Reid is a composer based in Los Angeles and New York. p r i s m, her debut opera, focuses on the psychological trauma following sexual assault, told through a surreal story taking place between a mother and daughter in a “pristine sanctuary” where they are “locked away from the world.” Its premiere made Reid the very first composer to be commissioned by all four of Los Angeles’ major classical music institutions: the Los Angeles Philharmonic, L.A. Master Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and L.A. Opera. The libretto was written by Roxie Perkins, and it was directed by James Darrah.

Last year, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music was awarded to Kendrick Lamar for his album DAMN. His win marked the first time a non-jazz or classical artist won the award.

“[When I heard I got it], I thought, to be recognized in an academic world… whoa, this thing really can take me above and beyond,” Kendrick said in a 2018 interview. “It’s one of those things that should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago.”

Read “With Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Win, The World May Finally Be Catching Up to Rap” on the Pitch, and read Pitchfork’s feature “How Aretha Franklin Earned Her Crown As the Queen of Soul.”

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