How M People Spent Their 1994 Mercury Music Prize Winnings

Extract from an article in The Guardian - M People: how we spent our Mercury prize winnings


Unlike the Brits, a Mercury prize win comes with a fat cheque attached. So who lost theirs, who gave it to charity, and who spent it all on beer...

Heather Small of M People - Winning album: Elegant Slumming (1994)

"We gave ours to a multiple sclerosis charity because someone we knew was suffering from the disease. It was a unanimous decision; there was no dissent. We just thought it was the right thing to do. Winning was quite enough, and we were in a position where we could afford to do it; we'd already had a little bit of success. So our winning touched somebody else's life. The money was the cherry on top but we didn't need the cherry, because we had the cake.

I was just stunned that we won because the prize was in its infancy and people assumed it was an indie award [Primal Scream and Suede had won previously]. Some people took offence at us winning. But 20 years down the line we're still performing those songs to very appreciative audiences. The judges said they chose the album that moved them most, and they went with their gut feeling, and I feel their belief was justified. No one can tell me how sincere I am or how much integrity I've got. I'm from a working-class immigrant background living on a council estate, so to sing songs of hope and happiness, I'll take it. I wanted to say there was a way forward.

Did we go to a bar? There's always a bash. I don't drink or smoke and I can't remember the night! We were up against Blur, Pulp, the Prodigy, the guy from the Style Council – all very worthy people. But it's human nature: you want to win. I was shocked but happy because there was so much snobbery and the backlash from the press was unbelievable. But good music is good music and how dare you judge us so harshly? How dare you rubbish my hard work? That's what made it sweeter that we won."