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Anna Meredith is Scottish Album of the Year winner

The 2016 winner of the most coveted music prize in Scotland is Anna Meredith with her album Varmints.

At a ceremony presented by co-hosts Vic Galloway and Janice Forsyth at Paisley Town Hall, an audience of industry insiders, avid music fans and some of Scotland’s best and brightest creative talent watched as Anna emerged as the winner from a fiercely competitive shortlist to win the £20,000 first prize.

Anna Meredith is Scottish Album of the Year winner

SAY Award 2016 winner Anna Meredith said: “It has been a total honour and a privilege to be on the longlist and shortlist for the SAY award. It has been great getting to know all of the other albums and during these politically difficult times to see positivity, creativity and spirit coming out of the longlist and shortlist.

"Thank you to all of those artists. Huge thanks to the SAY award and my long suffering and hugely talented band who helped me make this real labour of love.”

Varmints is the third album by London-born, Edinburgh-raised electronic and acoustic composer, producer and performer Anna Meredith.

The 38-year-old is a former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, has collaborated with beatboxer Schlomo writing the Concerto for Beatboxer and Opera and is a former PRS/RPS Composer in the House with Sinfonia ViVA.

She regularly works with the BBC Proms, was a judge for the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year and a mentor to Goldie for the TV Show Classical Goldie. She is also a frequent guest and commentator for the BBC Proms and other BBC Radio 3 and 4 shows.

Produced by The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), and now in its fifth year, The SAY Award has grown to become the most prestigious music prize in Scotland.

This year and in 2017, the award has teamed up with the Paisley bid for UK City of Culture 2021. The shortlist served to highlight the very best in Scottish music, spanning a range of genres and audiences.

Performances on the night, which were presented in partnership with Ticketweb, came from the 2015 SAY award winner Kathryn Joseph, electro-pop artists Bossy Love fresh from from their Glastonbury debut, glam-pop outfit White and powerful Celtic folk outfit Treacherous Orchestra.

The winner of this year’s public vote was ‘FFS’, Franz Ferdinand and Sparks’ eponymous collaborative debut which won an automatic place on the shortlist after a 72-hour public vote.

The remaining nine slots were awarded by The SAY Award’s panel of independent judges (see notes to editors for full details). Each of the nine shortlisted bands win a £1,000 prize and a one of a kind ceramic bell produced by Glasgow School of Art graduate Karen Hanvidge.

The SAY award’s chosen charity this year is Playlist for Life (www.playlistforlife.org.uk) which connects people and memories through music. Playlist for Life works to bring the benefits of personally meaningful music in dementia care to as many people as possible, wherever they may be in the UK.

Janice Forsyth and Vic Galloway also took a moment to ask SAY award guests to raise their glasses in tribute to two dearly loved figures in Scottish music, who sadly passed away last year. Camera Obscura's Carey Lander died from Osteosarcoma in October, aged only 33. She was a quiet icon in Scottish indie music, playing on four Camera Obscura LPs, including their most recent release, Desire Lines, which was nominated for 2014's Scottish Album of the Year Award.

The Scottish music industry also lost radio producer extraordinaire Stewart Cruickshank at the age of 64 in November. Stewart was a hugely important BBC Radio Producer who charmed Lou Reed, performed in Mowgli and the Donuts, and was fondly known as Kaptain Krunch.

Dougal Perman, chair of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), said: “Scottish music goes from strength to strength. As Scotland’s national music prize, the SAY Award celebrates a selection of the best albums from the past year. The quality and diversity of the artists and albums on the longlist demonstrates the energy and vitality of Scotland’s music industry.

"We’re delighted to be in Paisley this year and support their bid for UK City of Culture 2021. On behalf of the Scottish Music Industry Association I’d like to say a huge thank you to our panel of judges, pool of nominators, production team, partners and supports this year and, of course, many congratulations to this year’s winner Anna Meredith.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland, said: “Congratulations to Anna Meredith who joins an increasingly prestigious list of SAY Award winners.

"The 2016 longlist of albums was an impressive reminder of the unrivalled talent that shines right across Scotland’s music scene, in every genre, from industry veterans to on-the-pulse newcomers.

"Year after year the SAY Award grows in stature at home and abroad, throwing a spotlight on the quality and diversity of releases that make Scotland’s music the envy of the world.

"There can be only one winner – but this year it’s a worthy winner who truly pushes the boundaries of what an album can achieve.”

Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 Bid Director and one of the SAY Award judges, said: "My congratulations go to all the acts on the shortlist - together they demonstrate the incredible breadth of talent and quality out there just now in the Scottish music scene, and picking a winner was a very tough job.

"Paisley Town Hall made a magnificent venue for the SAY Award and it is was great for the town to have it here - being able to attract an event of this calibre is really helping put us on Scotland's musical map ahead of our bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

"With the bill just announced for our nine-day-long Spree Festival in October, we expect Scotland's musical spotlight to shine back on Paisley again this year.

"Personally I have loved being involved in such an inspiring event - and can't wait to do it all again when it returns to Paisley in 2017."

Peter Leathem, Chief Executive, PPL said: “The SAY Awards are a fantastic way for PPL to support and help raise the profile of Scotland’s hugely diverse and world class music scene.

"On behalf of all our members it is a real pleasure to be associated with such an increasingly important event. Our congratulations go to all the performers involved.”

Sam Isles, Managing Director Ticketweb, said: “It’s been so cool to be involved with the SAY Awards this year. To hear the breadth of music that Scottish artists have produced this year has been incredible and we really loved ever record on the final the shortlist.

"Congratulations to Anna Meredith as she has produced a brilliant record, she is a worthy winner, no question. The ceremony itself was awesome!

"We were really looking forward to the live performances from WHITE & Bossy Love and they did not disappoint - definitely keep an eye out for both of those guys. All in all it’s just been great to see Scottish music in such rude health and long may that continue, we’ll definitely be back next year!”

Sally Magnusson, chair of Playlist for Life, the SAY Award’s chosen charity this year, said: “Everyone, including the stars and innovators of Scotland’s music scene attending the SAY award tonight, recognises the feeling when you hear a piece of music and are transported to a special time, person or place in your life. This is the music of your unique ‘playlist for life’.”

“I saw first-hand the difference personal music made to my mother Mamie as she battled dementia.

“I founded Playlist for Life to raise awareness of the power of personal music, provide tools to make it as easy as possible to find the right music for a person and teach people how they can harness its effects to alleviate symptoms, improve care and strengthen relationships.

“Our sincere thanks go to the Scottish Album of the Year organisers for supporting Playlist for Life and raising awareness of what we do. Our congratulations go to Anna Meredith, this year’s SAY award winner.”