BALOISE SESSION Award
Since 2002, a jury of music experts has honoured exceptional national and international music artists with the Festival Award.
It is a simple, but sought-after prize among artists, which is awarded in various categories: For the life's work of an artist, for an exceptional music achievement or for an extraordinary debut.
Martin Schäfer, Michael Schuler, Christoph Schwegler, Sina, Zeno van Essel, Chris von Rohr and Beatrice Stirnimann are the members of this Jury of music experts who confer this award.
Award Design: Daniel Maiolino, www.maiolino.ch
Lifetime Achievement Award 2015
Giving a punk a prize would have been as unseemly forty years ago as proposing marriage to a Catholic priest. Punk was the countermovement against everything that conformed to societal constraints. Punk – the expression comes from «rotting wood» – toyed provocatively with the idea of being trashy and amateurish. Now Iggy Pop, one of the forefathers of punk, has joined the Baloise Session Hall of Fame along with Tom Jones, Zucchero, Lionel Richie and others, all of whom have received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Iggy Pop may have especially earned it. No only because he has always remained distinctive, authentic and innovative in his music and his performance, but also because, over the years, he has given a face to the true soul of punk. He never let himself be swayed by the latest trends, but rather, he had the courage and the energy to dare to experiment and to go his own way, even with the risk of failure. The fact that he has managed to endure is proof of his great artistic power and his colourful personality, which the Baloise Session is very pleased to honour.
Arising Star Award 2014
A major highlight in the vita of a young artist these days is winning a talent show or getting a first place in some kind of contest, yet reducing the American musician Antoinette Clinton, born on 29 September 1985 in Sacramento, to her win in the World Hip Hop Beatbox Women´s Championship or to her third prize in America’s Got Talent, would be an insult. The musicality this young lady possesses defies all clichés and genres. Butterscotch has mastered jazz, hip-hop, pop, soul and much more, all the way to classical music and ranging from Frédéric Chopin to Billie Holiday to Stevie Wonder. Major stars in the music scene jump at the chance to work with her: Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Wyclef Jean, Stevie Wonder or Sheila E. This is not only because Butterscotch creates magical worlds of sound with her mouth that normally only a big band could produce, but also, because Butterscotch has the guts to experiment and does not take herself too seriously. Two years ago, for example, she appeared to an enthusiastic reception as the guest star in the concert programme of the German star comedian Helge Schneider. She does all of this with an ease, visible joy and incredibly appealing charisma. She is truly an arising star.
Musician’s Musician Award 2014
At a time when the last of the hippie generation still sported headbands, long hair and flowered bell-bottoms, he graced the covers of his albums in horn-rimmed glasses and tailored suits. It was an irreverent provocation, indicating a new generation and a new kind of music. Throughout his career, Elvis Costello has continued to be an iconoclast. Born in London in 1954, the son of the English singer and trumpet-player Ross McManus, he spent his formative years playing folk and classic rock’n’roll. Back then, he used the acronym «D. P.» with the initials of his actual given names: Declan Patrick, but he also already used the pseudonym Costello, his great grandmother’s last name. He later added the first name Elvis based on the advice of his producer. His identity is also defined by the ease with which he moves between music styles without sacrificing the authenticity of his voice and his rough and edgy guitar playing style. Over the years, he has not only influenced many great musicians creatively, he has also produced their albums or composed for them. From Johnny Cash, Dusty Springfield, the classical singer Anne Sofie von Otter or an Irish folk/punk band, the immense range covered by Elvis Costello defines him as a true musician’s musician.
Lifetime Achievement Award 2013
Eric Clapton would deserve a lifetime achievement award even without his music. He always managed to work his way out of a hard place, he seemed to wander aimlessly, but then he suddenly set off in a new direction, and no matter how hard he fell, he always got back up again. All of these achievements give proof of his strong character, his incredible will to survive and his fearlessness in breaking out of the mold. He calls many of the world’s great music legends his friends, he has millions of fans, and yet he goes his own solitary way. This is what makes Clapton’s music so unique. His blues comes from the depth of his soul at the juncture of pain and reconciliation. His rhythm is driven by the quest to be a better person. His ability to reflect on himself and the world have inspired Clapton to compose songs like «After Midnight», «Layla», «Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door» and the tender song «Wonderful Tonight». Songs like these have won him 17 Grammys. He is the only musician in the world to be a member of the famous «Rock and Roll Hall of Fame» three times over. Two years ago, Rolling Stone Magazine put him on the list of the «100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time», right after Jimi Hendrix. That is more than reason enough to honour this extraordinary man and musician at the BALOISE SESSION for his lifetime achievement.
Arising Star Award 2013
Earning your money as a street musician in Montmartre, the artists’ quarter of Paris, teaches you what audiences want to hear. Enthralling audiences as far off as Siberia and Egypt with Edith Piaf songs means that you have embraced the true soul of chanson. And if, even after climbing up Mont Blanc (4810m), you still have the energy to sing and jam at the top of the peak, then the sleepless nights of show business can do you no harm. It is unusual to see all of these abilities unified in one single person. The French singer Zaz, born in 1980 in Tours in the Loire Valley, is this person. In addition, she is an extraordinary songwriter. She honed her skills at the Centre d’Information et d’Activités Musicales in Bordeaux and won the talent contest «Réservoir Generation» sponsored by the radio station France Bleu at the Olympia in Paris in 2009. In contrast to the other participants, Zaz had arrived without a fan club, and she still managed to captivate the audiences in every round. You could say that it is no surprise that her debut album ended up at number one in the French album charts – and it stayed there for half a year. But nothing in the music business is a gift. Also not the BALOISE SESSION’s Arising Star Award: This award goes to Zaz, because the music experts are completely convinced by the great potential of this extraordinary newcomer.
Lifetime Achievement Award 2012
Significant parts of American soul and pop history would have to be rewritten without Dionne Warwick’s lyrical, airy love songs. Her songs already had record players spinning back in the 1960s and 1970s: «I Say A Little Prayer», «I’ll Never Fall In Love Again», «Walk On By», the list could go on with a dozen more hit singles. Some of her songs have even been included in the Great American Songbook. With her impeccable composure and sensual charm, Dionne Warwick gives her music the same touch of class that helped her to establish herself as a major player in a pop scene that was still largely dominated by white musicians. Another quality that makes her so special is her incomparable charisma, which made her a popular duet partner for countless music legends from Stevie Wonder, Barry White and Barry Gibb to Gloria Estefan and many more, to whom she has also been a reliable advisor and friend over the years. Dionne Warwick was also a mentor and a loyal friend to her cousin, Whitney Houston. She is the perfect example of the motto of one of her greatest hits: That’s What Friends Are For. Dionne Warwick's many achievements made her well worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
(v.l.) Matthias Müller, Dionne Warwick, Beatrice Stirnimann
Musician's Musician Award 2012
His parents were not rich, but they recognised his talent early on and bought him a piano when he was seven years old. Herbie rounded out his music knowhow by analysing opera broadcasts on the radio. After that, he went on to perform Mozart's 5th Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11. That wasn't enough for this child prodigy. Herbie Hancock was interested in the technical possibilities of electronic music. He later became a pioneer of the synthesizer, which he used in his legendary piece Rock It at the beginning of the 80s. In the meantime, he had skyrocketed from being a gifted young Chicago boy to becoming an integral part of the 80s acoustic jazz revival. In 1963, at 23, Herbie Hancock became a member of the famous second quintet of Miles Davis. He was involved in major works such as E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Nefertiti, Sorcerer and Bitches Brew. Innovation has always driven his career. In addition to his solo projects, Herbie Hancock has been in formations with stars like Quincy Jones, Sting, Paul Simon and Carlos Santana and even with classical piano prodigy Lang Lang, with whom he engaged in heated piano battles. Herbie Hancock is a real musician's musician and was and is truly worthy of this award.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Herbie Hancock, Matthias Müller
Lifetime Achievement Award 2011
Singer, actress, dancer and entertainer: No other artist has influenced American show business like Liza Minnelli. As the daughter of Hollywood legend Judy Garland and the director Vincente Minnelli, she was literally born into the biz. There were positive and negative side effects. On the one hand, Liza’s major talent was discovered early on. On the other hand, countless moves and new schools affected her childhood years. At a young age, she took on the role of the head of the family, taking care of the household and her two siblings. In 1972, she became world-famous with the film «Cabaret» and received the Oscar as the best actress and on Broadway, this consummate musical actress was simply brilliant. For having survived family and showbiz ups and downs with style and unparalleled optimism, Liza Minnelli had more than earned the Lifetime Achievement Award of the festival when she received the award in 2011.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Liza Minnelli, Matthias Müller
Musician's Musician Award 2011
Here in Switzerland, the US country and folk scene is often unfairly regarded as old fashioned and backward. Musician, producer, actor and now also book author Steve Earle gives proof that the spectrum is actually broad. Like no other musician, he has influenced the alternative country scene over the last 20 years with liberal and socially critical topics. Earle, whose political views were shaped by the hippy and anti-Vietnam war movement, started singing about injustice in his own country early on: poverty, homelessness and the death penalty were some of his themes. After 9/11, he polarised America with his song «John Walker’s Blues», because the song was told from the point of view of US citizen and Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. In 2005, Earle received a Grammy award for his musical attack against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: «The Revolution Starts…Now». In 2011, his highly regarded novel, «I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive» was published – reason enough to honour this creative, restless and hard-working musician with the Musician’s Musician Award of the festival.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Steve Earle, Matthias Müller
Lifetime Achievement Award 2010
There have been many debates about who was more important for British pop and rock: the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. The fact that there was a third band, one that had just as big an influence on these music genres, is often forgotten: The Kinks. The head of this unforgettable cult band was the British musician, composer and writer Ray Davies. He wrote unforgettable hits like «You Really Got Me», «Sunny Afternoon», «Lola», «Waterloo Sunset» and many more. After the Kinks, Davies made his mark as an extraordinary songwriter and constant pioneer in popular music, as someone who was able to switch between styles with ease and avoided getting involved in scandals. In 2004, the Queen of England awarded him the title «Commander of the British Empire». In 2010, the jury of the festival awarded this all-round legend the Lifetime Achievement Award.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Ray Davies, Matthias Müller
Mary J. Blige
Musician's Musician Award 2010
Which other soul singer has sung duets with both Sting and Bono of U2 that became hits the world over? The songs «Whenever I Say Your Name» and «One» are both timeless hymns that let Mary J. Blige’s powerful, soulful voice shine to its fullest. They are proof that this extraordinary singer from the New York Bronx has fully earned the respect of her music peers. And that respect did not just come out of nowhere. If you listen to her debut album, «What’s The 411?», released in 1992, you will already hear the 21-year-old hip hop princess’s enormous potential. Top producers like Heavy D., Darkchild, Babyface and R.Kelly nurtured her talent and strong duets with Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Lauryn Hill and Eric Clapton made her popularity on the international music scene grow. With 40 million records sold and 9 Grammys, the time was ripe for the «Musician’s Musician» Award.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Mary J. Blige, Matthias Müller
Lifetime Achievement Award 2009
Only in the life of a performer could it happen so fast. In 1963, he was still doing pub tours in Wales and was making a living working on construction sites and selling vacuum cleaners. Only four years later, he stepped out onto the stage of the London Palladium to perform for the Queen. In the meantime, he had come out with hits like «What’s New Pussycat», «The Green, Green Grass Of Home» and the legendary «Delilah». One great lifelong achievement is the fact that no matter how successful he is, he never sits back or stands still. Again and again, he has collaborated with innovators on the forefront of the music scene. In a career spanning half a century, Tom Jones has remained a star. He has never had to make a comeback, because he has never been gone. He was and is a worthy recipient of the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Matthias Müller, Tom Jones
Arising Star Award 2009
We know them from the cover of a magazine, from posters on the walls, from newspaper headlines and from hearing their hits played over and over again on the radio. Many of them fade from sight just as quickly as they appeared. Others are just waiting to be discovered and truly appreciated once the hoopla is over. Maria Mena is one of those stars. In 2009, she had transformed herself from a shooting star in the world of pop to a permanent fixture on the firmament of great music. As her star continued to grow even brighter, she had become an «Arising Star». Hits like «All This Time» or «Just Hold Me» were only the shining corona of her even more brightly glowing collection of creative work, which was honoured with the Arising Star Award.
(v.l.) Matthias Müller, Maria Mena
Lifetime Achievement Award 2008
Adelmo «Zucchero» Fornaciari has transformed Afro-American R&B into authentic musica italiana like no other. Spawning from his deep respect for the great tradition of black American blues and soul, Zucchero has created songs that unite the best of both worlds. For over thirty years, this native of Emilia-Romagna has joined the legion of cantautori who have succeeded in renewing the classic Italian canzone. And in his collaboration with his idols, such as Solomon Burke and John Lee Hooker, he had proven himself a worthy citizen of his musical country of choice.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Zucchero
Musician's Musician Award 2008
He is probably the most prominent representative of the New York anti-folk scene and on his five albums (since 2002), he had become known beyond America’s borders as the embodiment of a different kind of reflective young generation in America. As a clever, playful singer-songwriter, but also as the author of the book «Magazine», Adam Green had become a respected and admired artist especially in Europe. Often compared to Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, with his subtle instrumentals and unexpected tributes to Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole, he had given his music an individual and unconventional profile.
(v.l.) Matthias Müller, Adam Green, Beatrice Stirnimann
Lifetime Achievement Award 2007
This award is well-deserved from a musical and from a historical standpoint: Berry not only gave rock’n’roll many of its best songs, he also shaped it as an art form. From a historical perspective, Chuck Berry was undersold and taken advantage of shamelessly by his white managers. With his presence over the decades, he embodied a full-blooded rock’n’roll musician like no other founding father of the art.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Chuck Berry, Matthias Müller
Musician's Musician Award 2007
With his new album «Release the Stars», Rufus had definitively entered the realm of stardom. Like the title of his new album suggested, Rufus continually dares the impossible. When he was asked to compose for the renowned Met Opera in New York, Rufus had established himself as one of the greatest songwriters of our time. Wainwright, who has received overflowing praise for his bombastic and powerful voice, delights in poking fun at himself with often burlesque humour, making him all the more appealing.
Sir Elton John
Lifetime Achievement Award 2006
Sir Elton John (Lifetime Achievement Award) It was clear that Sir Elton John deserved this award more than any other rock performer. For over 40 years he had been turning out hits, celebrating them and himself in his high-energy live shows. His songs are always a reflection of the current mood, yet never stray too far from his biggest passion, rock'n'roll. This, quite apart from his phenomenal chart success, makes him a highly credible performer. And it is this credibility that the jury chose to honour.
(v.l.) Matthias Müller, Sir Elton John, Beatrice Stirnimann
Arising Star Award 2006
She does not regard African music as an unchanging tradition, but combines all her musical experience from her church-choir beginnings with traditional a cappella singing, jazz and the contemporary rhythms of hip-hop, soul and R&B. It's hardly any wonder that her songs are some of the most sought-after ring tones among young, trendy South Africans. She won the award for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2005 South African Music Awards. We knew she would take Europe by storm and when we awarded her our Rising Star Award.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Simphiwe Dana, Matthias Müller
Special Jubilee Award 2005
He was honoured for not resting on his laurels after reaching the very pinnacle of German music, but spending the time between his stadium gigs enthusiastically exploring new ground. By setting up his own record label «Grönland» he made his experience, contacts and, not least, substantial resources available to a new generation of musicians. What was also exciting, was that he did not restrict himself to narrowly conserving his musical heritage, but has hand-picked the bands on his label without showing any stylistic preference. His courage and dedication demanded respect – and our Award.
(v.l.) Beatrice Stirnimann, Herbert Grönemeyer, Matthias Müller
Newcomer Award by Suisa Foundation 2005
He was honoured for blazing his own trail without regard for convention. He had attracted attention by combining ferocious enthusiasm with a healthy pinch of self-irony. Anyone who listens to his prodigious musical output will quickly learn that Signorino TJ leaves nothing to chance. Songwriting, backing musicians, arrangements and production are all his work. From «SuperSimpleSexySomething» to the summertime hit «E’Cosi Com’E», the songs are infectiously catchy and refreshingly «unswiss».
(v.l.) Matthias Müller, Signorio TJ, Jean Zuber (Suisa-Stiftung)
Lifetime Achievement Award 2004
He was honoured because of the songs he had performed in a career that spanned several decades, such as «Easy», «Hello» or «Say You Say Me», all of which had left an indelible impression. In 2004 and also now, he was one of the few artists who could be described as a truly global star.
(v.l.) Nubya, Matthias Müller, Lionel Richie
Lifetime Achievement Award 2003
Nigel Kennedy was constantly in the press because of his provocative performances. To reduce this artist to his scandals, however, would be to forget how broad his musical background actually is: His interpretation of Vivaldi's «Four Seasons» became the best-selling classic album of all times. In addition to major classical concerts he also participated in daring crossover projects with interpretations of music by The Doors, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix. He delivered constant proof that he was not just a flash in the pan.
(v.l.) Christian Gross, Nigel Kennedy
Arising Star Award 2003
Critics sharpened their pencils when the former Dior model Carla Bruni announced publicly that she would pursue a new career as a singer. When her first CD hit number 1 in France and in other countries, people did not believe their ears. The successful singer from the French-speaking world showed that she had the guts to prove herself off the runway, behind a microphone. The timbre of her raw, sexy voice adds to her individuality as an artist.
(v.l.) Carla Bruni, Matthias Müller
Arising Star Award 2002
Ryan Adams was the first musician to be presented a festival award, because this fascinating singer-songwriter had proven with his 3 previous albums that he was not a flash in the pan and his music spans from folk to alternative country and rock.
(v.l.) Ryan Adams, Christoph Schwegler