The Prize committee's citation for Stevie Wonder:
The 1999 POLAR Prize is awarded to the American singer and composer Stevie Wonder for a unique career as a singer, composer and stage artist. As a young boy he already stood with both feet on firm musical ground, rooted as he was in soul and gospel. After the early years with the legendary Motown recording company, which signed him up as a "Little Stevie Wonder" when he was only 12 years old, he gradually released a striking curiosity and responsiveness to current developments in black music, successfully incorporating in his own music a host of stylistic elements reflecting both tradition and renewal. These have since been amalgamated to form the supremely personal inflection which makes him one of the absolutely pivotal figures of present-day rock. With a number of classical albums such as Songs in the key of life during the 1970s he consolidated his position in the instrumental sphere as well, partly by pioneering new uses of the synthesizer and its growing acoustic potential. We also find him in the role of elder statesman of black music, actively concerned with black rights (USA For Africa). Stevie Wonder is without question one of the great personalities of rock. His pregnant and powerfully expressive vocal presence, coupled with a musicianly elegance lightly borne, are important qualities forming part of the broad, personal spectrum of irresistible musical gesture and compelling emotion which is his personal hallmark. The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stag “Stocking” Anderson, one of the true greats in the history of popular music. As the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, he played a key role in their enormous success. Anderson donated a large sum of money to The Royal Swedish Academy of Music to establish The Sting Anderson Music Award Foundation in The Royal Swedish Academy of Music and to create what was to become known as the Polar Music Prize. Its name stems from Anderson’s legendary record label, Polar Records. It is an international music prize and awarded to individuals, groups or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music. The prize breaks down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music. The board of the Stir Anderson Music Award Foundation, consists of representatives from the Sig Anderson family, SLAP (The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers) and SKIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). The task of scrutinizing nominations submitted and selecting the ultimate prizewinners is undertaken by an Award Committee comprising of experienced members of the music industry. Today, the Polar Music Prize has become one of the most prestigious music prize in the world. The list of prize winners bears witness to this. Sir Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Wild Lutoslawski, Nikolaus Handcart, Quincy Jones, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Pierre Boulez, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Orison, Ray Charles, Ravi Shank, Innis Xenakis, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Isaac Stern, Burt Butchery, Robert Moog, Klein's Stockhausen, Sofia Gabardine, Miriam Makers, Keith Jarrett, B.B. King, Yorgo Legato, Gilberto Gil and Dietrich Fischer-Dusky, Valery Forgive and Led Zeppelin have all been bestowed with the Prize since its inception in 1992. In 1992, the Baltic States were also awarded the Prize to encourage them in their work for protection of copyright. Each recipient receives a total amount of one million Swedish Crowns. The prize is presented at the Stockholm Concert Hall by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden to be followed by a celebratory banquet at Grand Hostel.