Plan B aka Ben Drew takes top honours at Ivor Novello awards

Wins Songwriter of the Year prize and awards for Defamation of Strickland Banks and most performed work She Said

His alter-ego Strickland Banks may have found himself incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, but the career path of his creator Ben Drew, aka Plan B, continues to follow a much more successful trajectory.

The musician dominated the Ivor Novello awards on Thursday, taking home three honours including the most-coveted prize of Songwriter of the Year, as well as the album award for the Defamation of Strickland Banks, and the most performed work for She Said.

Accepting his third award, an emotional Drew described making songs in his bedroom in east London while he saw friends succumb to heroin and get thrown out of tower blocks. "I wanted to stand up for those kids, I wanted to write about those kids who were ignored and forgotten," he said.

After he received the award from Elton John, who called the Defamation of Strickland Banks his favourite record of the year, he added that his next album would be a return to his hip hop roots with the Ballad of Belmarsh. "I am never going to make music that I don't like because a record label is making me do it," he said, referring to his decision to move away for the commercial success he has had with soul.

It was a good day for British urban music at the 56th Novello awards for British songwriting at the Grosvenor Hotel, London. Tinie Tempah – real name Patrick Okogwu – took home the prize for best contemporary song for the stratospherically successful Pass Out, which he co-wrote with Timothy McKenzie, better known by his stage name Labrinth, and Marc Williams.

One of the biggest honours went to the boy grime star turned seasoned man of pop Dizzee Rascal, who accepted the Ivors Inspiration Award. Mr Rascal, as he was once called by Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, gracefully accepted his invitation into the songwriting establishment. Wearing a tuxedo, with a maroon silk scarf and matching bow tie, he said with typical boisterousness: "We are doing this shit! Thanks to everyone man, respect." The Ivors have always been more about the beauty of the songs rather than the brawn of the charts, and there was plenty of talent.

Conor O' Brian, of the Villagers, won the Best song Musically and Lyrically for Becoming a Jackal, the performance of which held Mercury music prize attendees spell-bound when the band was nominated last year. "Holy shit," said the diminuitive Irishman. "I see songs as self-rewarding so I'll see this as a bonus to the incredible year we've had." Fresh from winning a Grammy for their latest album The Resistance, Devon's finest stadium rockers Muse, comprising Matthew Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Christopher Wolstenholme, took home the award for international achievement.

The awards, which value talent over chart success, reach out across generations of musicians and songwriters. The award for outstanding contribution to British music went to 62-year-old rock singer-songwriter Paul Rodgers, who first gained success as a member of Free and Bad Company in the 70s.

The outstanding song collection award went to multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood, who among other instruments, plays the mandolin, violin, electric organ, synthesizers, bass, drums and guitar.

Michael Nyman, the pianist and composer of the multi-platinum soundtrack to the Piano as well as several operas, won the classical music award. This year's best original film score went to John Powell for How To Train Your Dragon, while Dan Jones won the best television soundtrack for Any Human Heart. Now in its second year, the award for best original video game score went to Richard Beddow, Richard Birdsall and Ian Livingstone for Napoleon: Total War.

There was a standing ovation for American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who could not accept his award personally as he is ill in New York.

The composer, whose most famous scores include Sweeney Todd, into the Woods and Assassins as well as the lyrics for West Side Story, received the special international award, to add to his countless Tonys, Academy awards, Grammys and Pulitzers.


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

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