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Songwriter Diane Warren to receive ‘Nobel Prize of music’

The prolific artist has worked with Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Lady Gaga among others.


Diane Warren (Ian West/PA)

Diane Warren (Ian West/PA)

Diane Warren (Ian West/PA)

Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren and soprano Anna Netrebko have been announced as laureates of the prestigious Polar Music Prize – often described as the “Nobel Prize of music”.

Each year the prize honours two figures, one contemporary and one classical, for significant achievements in music.

Warren, originally from the San Fernando Valley in California, has written for stars including Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin, selling more than 250 million records worldwide.

The 88th Academy Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles
Diane Warren has worked with Lady Gaga (Ian West/PA)

The 63-year-old’s songs have featured in more than 100 films resulting in 11 Oscar nominations, most recently this year for I’m Standing With You, performed by Chrissy Metz in Breakthrough.

Warren, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, told the PA news agency: “The Polar Prize is an amazing award. Look at the amazing people they have given it to, and they are giving it to me – I am pretty blown away by that. Not bad for a former juvenile delinquent.

“I am from the valley. I am from out here and I was a f***-up as a kid. Music was always something I really worked on.

“I didn’t care about school. I got kicked out of a lot of schools. I just care about music, you know. Once I really got into music I had a purpose and nothing has stopped me since then.”

Warren said winning the Polar Music Prize felt like a fitting end to one chapter of her life.

“I feel like I am just getting started,” she added. “I am definitely writing my best songs right now. I’m working more than ever.

“I am never going to retire. I look at this as if it is a body of work up until now, and then there are other bodies of work that I am working on.

“Songwriting comes easy because it is what I do. This is what I have always been doing pretty obsessively since I was 14 – so we are talking almost 50 years.

“This is like breathing, to me. I have to write songs. I have to do it or else I would probably die.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Premiere – London
Cher has recorded songs by Diane Warren (Ian West/PA)

“This is my life and I am always learning my craft – all the time. I am always learning new things about it.”

Cher, whose hit If I Could Turn Back Time was written by Warren, said: “She’s a great writer. There’s nobody better than her.”

The prize will be awarded at Stockholm’s Grand Hotel on Tuesday June 9, and each laureate will receive a million Swedish kronor (£80,000) in prize money.

Russia-born operatic soprano Netrebko said being made a laureate was a “big honour”.

South Bank Sky Arts Awards – London
Anna Netrebko (Ian West/PA)

She said: “When I get on stage, something happens and the quality of the performance is 10 times better, like I have a voice telling me what to do. It’s always been with me.

“You are entering the stage to give everything you have. You have to put your soul, your heart and all of your knowledge to reach the souls of the audience.

“Receiving the Polar Music Prize is a big honour. I am very much looking forward to coming to Stockholm in June.”

Managing director of the prize Marie Ledin said: “I am delighted that the 2020 Polar Music Prize laureates are Anna Netrebko and Diane Warren, two impressive, supremely talented women, who are both at the top of their respective professions.”

Now in its 29th year, previous winners include Sir Paul McCartney, Metallica, Sting, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, Chuck Berry, Grandmaster Flash and Bjork.