He’s headlined on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, won three Brits, campaigned for Grenfell residents, delivered the BBC’s Christmas reading and now Stormzy, who often credits God for his success, will receive the 2020 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award for his contribution to the public understanding of religion.
In his acceptance speech which will be broadcast online as part of a special digital awards programme on June 11 at 18.30 BST, Stormzy says: “Every award I’ve ever collected, whatever achievement I’ve ever had, I’ve always been vocal about the fact that it’s not possible without God. He’s the reason why I’m here today. He’s the reason that I’m able to have a career… (but) a lot of the time I get non-believers saying “Don’t thank God, this wasn’t God. This was all you” and I know this wasn’t all me. This was God.”
In his speech, Stormzy talks about the technical issues that could have ruined his 2019 Glastonbury performance and pays tribute to his mother “a prayer warrior” who, he says, while he was on stage, was in church praying for her son after her pastor had a premonition that things would go wrong.
In their dedication, the Sandford St Martin Trustees say they decided Stormzy should receive this award not because he believes in God, but because of how this faith has informed his efforts to foster a public conversation and to build a sense of community that has united thousands of fans across cultural, class, generational and religious boundaries.
Chair of the Trust, the Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon said “The openness and clarity about which Stormzy speaks and sings about his faith and the efforts he’s made to translate that into action resonates with people around the world who have heard his music on the radio, seen him perform on television or watched his videos on line. This award celebrates people that have made an outstanding contribution towards understanding how religion impacts on the personal, political and social sides of our lives – for these reasons we’re very pleased to be presenting this year’s award to Stormzy.”
Among those paying tribute to him in the programme are David Lammy MP, the broadcaster Jasmine Dotiwala, Natasha Elcock, chair of Grenfell United, and BBC Commissioning Editor Daisy Scalchi.
Addressing Stormzy, David Lammy says, “I think because your music and poetry captures an element of honesty, power and determination – particularly on speaking out on behalf of those of us who like me grew up in inner city Britain… It’s not just about the power of your music and your lyricism, it’s also about the power of your actions.”
Coming up June 14th and the anniversary of the Grenfell fire, Natasha Elcock, survivor says “So many times over the past three years you’ve used your platform for us. You’ve spoken out for us. You’ve taken on the powerful with us. You never did this to et any credit or recognition… You didn’t come from North Kensington but you recognised our neighbourhood in yours… and because of that you will always be part of our community.”
Previous SSM Trustees’ Awards winners have included Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, former Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor, the children’s programme ‘Blue Peter’, Joan Bakewell, Lyse Doucet, Melvyn Bragg and Sir John Tavener.
Most years the Sandford St Martin Awards are presented during a gala ceremony at Lambeth Palace but due to the ongoing lockdown, this year Stormzy will receive his award and the other winners will be announced as part of a special online broadcast that goes ‘live’ at 18.30 BST on June 11th. www.sandfordawards.org.uk/Awards_2020
1) Sandford St Martin Awards 2020
Among this year’s finalists are digital entries feature a former rugby player and convict’s search for redemption, a teenage perspective on #MeToo and sexual bullying, and fly on the wall film about vigilante violence against Muslims in India. These will be vying for prizes alongside entries from much more established broadcasting behemoths with entries about the Ebola epidemic (Al Jazeera English), sex before marriage (BBC Radio 1Xtra), a drama about Russia’s Pussy Riot (BBC Radio 4) and Channel 4’s much lauded documentary “For Sama”. For a full list of the shortlisted programmes, visit: https://sandfordawards.org.uk/2020-shortlists/
Winners are chosen by panels of media professionals. This year’s judges were chaired by Newsround presenter Hayley Hassall, Northern Irish journalist William Crawley, BBC news correspondent Sima Kotecha, and CEO of Curve Media Camilla Lewis. A full list of judges is here: http://sandfordawards.org.uk
2) The Sandford St Martin Trust
The Sandford St Martin Trust is an independent, non-profit organisation. It has been making annual awards for the best programmes about religion, ethics and spirituality since 1978. The Trust engages with a wide range of media organisations and individual journalists, filmmakers, broadcasters and other media figures who give their time and expertise voluntarily to support the Trust’s work. This includes contributing to and participating in conferences, festivals and training as well as on-going public consultations and debates on the future of broadcasting