After a four year run, the US equivalent to the UK's Mercury Prize is no more. The two founders of the Shortlist Music Prize, which is awarded to artists based on outstanding musical and creative achievement (not record sales or main stream popularity), have decided to go in different directions with their careers. Co-founder Greg Spotts has become involved with documentary filmmaking and politics, but fear not music fans. Co-founder Tom Sarig has his sights set on a new, bigger and better prize that will continue in the tradition of the Shortlist Prize. Called The New Pantheon, the prize, like the Shortlist, will be voted on by a panel of musicians and other "industry types". Some of the judges for the first annual New Pantheon include Beck, Dave Matthews, Ben Gibbard, Elton John, Chester and Mike from Linkin Park and even actors Elijah Wood and John Cameron Mitchell.
Sarig wants the New Pantheon to be a more high-profile event than his previous endeavor. Rather than be a small party/performance with a bunch of indie artists, Sarig told MTV News, "I want it to be an event, a cool concert that will be attended by artists like Alicia Keys or Missy Elliott, which is an area where I thought the Shortlist was lacking."
To me, it sounds like he's taking some of the "realness" out of the event by insisting that Missy Elliott need attend in order for it to be a success, but hey... what do I know? If was up to me, the award ceremony would be held at a 1200 person club with no VIP section and A-list superstars, if they chose to come, would have to stand in the crowd just like everyone else (god forbid). Regardless, I'm glad the US will continue to have SOME sort of award based on artistic integrity, so kudos to Sarig for keeping it alive.
Nominees for the first annual New Pantheon will be announced at the end of the month. Finalists will be revealed sometime in December. We'll keep you posted.