THE rap artist Stormzy is to receive the 2020 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award for contributing to the public’s understanding of religion.
A press release issued by the Trust on Thursday said: “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.”
Besides having received three Brit awards and performed as the headline act on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, Stormzy, who was born in London, has campaigned on social issues, including speaking publicly on behalf of the residents of Grenfell Tower.
The winners in all the categories of the Sandford St Martin’s Award (News,17 April) will be announced during what the Trust described as “a special digital awards programme” at 6.30 p.m. on 11 June. This will replace the usual gala ceremony at Lambeth Palace.
In his acceptance speech, which will be broadcast during the programme, 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.”
The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, who chairs the trust, said on Thursday: “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.”
In the programme, a survivor of the Grenfell Tower fire and chair of Grenfell United, Natasha Elcock, says to Stormzy: “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 get 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.”
Also addressing Stormzy, the Shadow Justice Secretary, 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.”