Declan McKenna wins BBC Introducing prize

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Media captionDeclan McKenna talks to BBC Breakfast about his award

With songs about police brutality and transgender conversion therapy, Declan McKenna has emerged as one of the UK’s most interesting new songwriters.

Now the 18-year-old, who started writing songs at school, has been named BBC Introducing’s artist of the year.

The award recognises musicians who got their start through BBC Introducing, which allows unsigned acts to get played on the radio.

McKenna said he was “delighted and honoured” to be recognised.

McKenna got a big break in 2014 when he used the Introducing website to submit his early songs to the BBC.

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Media captionDeclan McKenna performs Brazil in session at Maida Vale for BBC Music Introducing.

“I uploaded a bunch of demos when I was 14 or 15 because there were all these amazing bands coming out of BBC Introducing at the time,” he said.

“I remember being played on Three Counties, which was my local station. They had me in the studio, which was cool, because I’d never done anything like that before.”

Among those early songs was a track called Brazil, which addressed allegations of corruption at Fifa ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

It caught the attention of Columbia Records, who later signed the singer backstage at Glastonbury.

As McKenna’s reputation grew, BBC Introducing continued to lend support, inviting the musician to record a session at Maida Vale studios, and putting him on stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Exeter.

Image copyright Getty Images / BBC
Image caption The 1975 and Florence + The Machine also got started on BBC Music Introducing

The Hertfordshire-born singer released his debut album, What Do You Think About The Car, earlier this year, wedding those socially-conscious lyrics to a sun-soaked brand of indie pop that exhibits his love of David Bowie and Abba.

He’ll receive his artist of the year award during The Year in Music 2017, which screens on BBC Two this Friday at 21:00.

On learning he had been named artist of the year, he said: “I’d like to say a big thank you for relentlessly rooting for me throughout the years.

“No award could ever overshadow the time, effort and support given by so many others to get me to the point I’m at now, and for that I’m eternally grateful.”

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Media captionDeclan McKenna performs Humongous at BBC Music Introducing Live 2017

BBC Music Introducing started 10 years ago as a way of bringing together all of the BBC’s shows that champion new and emerging artists.

There are now 38 shows across local and national stations. Musicians of any genre – from classical to grime – can submit their recordings through the uploader tool.

The Year in Music 2017, hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Clara Amfo, will be on BBC Two this Friday, 8 December.

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