PJ Harvey Wins U.K.'s Mercury Music Prize At Worst Possible Time

Harvey accepts prestigious award by phone Tuesday from Washington, D.C.

A "stunned" Polly Jean Harvey phoned in to a London ceremony from Washington, D.C., Tuesday night to accept the coveted Technics Mercury Music Prize.

PJ Harvey performed at a club in the nation's capital Monday night, hours before the Pentagon was hit and New York's World Trade Center

towers were destroyed in the worst terrorist attack on the U.S. in history.

"It has been a very surreal day. All I can say is thank you very much, I am absolutely stunned," Harvey, a native of Somerset, England, told the audience, according to Reuters. "The whole city is in a state of shock."

Harvey's Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, the first album by a female to win the prize in its 10-year history, was inspired by Harvey's time living in New York at the turn of the century.

"Watching the lights flash in Manhattan/ I see five bridges/ The Empire State Building," Harvey sings on "You Said Something."

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea features Radiohead singer Thom Yorke on a few tracks, including the duet "This Mess We're In."

PJ Harvey received nominations for the Mercury Music Prize two other times — in 1993 for Rid of Me and in 1995 for To Bring You My Love. Stories is PJ Harvey's sixth album.

The judging panel for the prize described the album on its Web site as, "The most complete statement yet from one of the country's great rock artists. Visceral and compelling."

The Mercury Music Prize was created in 1992 in order to recognize the best British or Irish album of the year. The winner is selected by a panel of music industry experts and awarded with £20,000(approximately $28,000).

Radiohead's Amnesiac, Basement Jaxx's Rooty and Tom McRae's self-titled debut were among the albums on this year's short list (see "Gorillaz, Radiohead Up For Mercury Music Prize"). Gorillaz's self-titled debut was also selected, though the Damon Albarn-fronted cartoon band withdrew its nomination.

Harvey kicked off a short U.S. tour on September 4 in New York (see "PJ Harvey Leaves Tour-Opening Crowd With 'Beautiful Feeling' "). She

continued the tour Thursday in Chicago, noting on her Web site that, "Music has always been a great healer and it is felt that if there is any way that these shows can bring some relief in light of the recent travesty, then this should be the goal."

Several music industry insiders and artists, including Beck, Dave Grohl and Macy Gray, plan to launch a similar award in the U.S. called the Shortlist Prize for Artist Achievement (see "Beck, Dave Grohl, Others To Recognize Best Non-Hit Album"). The 16 judges, or Listmakers, were scheduled to convene in New York this weekend, but those plans have been postponed, according to co-organizer Greg Spotts.

A replacement event will be held in Los Angeles in September or early October, Spotts said. The discussion panel will meet in front of a live audience at the Museum of TV and Radio in Beverly Hills, California. It will be moderated by Nic Harcourt and broadcast live on his famed KCRW radio show, "Morning Becomes Eclectic."