The Prize, awarded in three categories, was developed in honor of our friend and colleague Creative Director Brent Grulke, who passed away on August 13, 2012.
Brent Grulke had a lengthy career in many aspects of the music industry from music editor at the Austin Chronicle to sound engineer or tour manager for many Austin bands as well as production and sound engineer in clubs in San Francisco. He later moved to Los Angeles to become the manager at Spindletop Records which eventually led him back to Austin where he was the longtime Creative Director of the SXSW Music Festival.
Brent's love of music and the spirit of the festival is reflected in the three Prize categories: Developing US Act, Developing Non-US Act and Career Act.
The Developing Act Prize is for artists who are breaking new ground with their creativity and show the most promise in achieving their career goals. The Career Act Prize is for an established artist who appeared at SXSW to reinvent themselves or launch an important new project.
SXSW 2015 Grulke Prize Winners
Developing US Act - Leon Bridges
Watching Leon Bridges' trajectory through the festival was a supersonic experience. The Fort Worth, Texas native started out doing open mics before being signed to Columbia last year. Likened to the great Sam Cooke, Bridges' charismatic fusion of soul and gospel made him one of the must-see acts this year.
Developing Non-US Act - Courtney Barnett
The Australian indie rock powerhouse blazed through SXSW, charming audiences all over town. Her songs offer wit mixed with heartbreaking observation, and she's fast becoming a boundary pushing breakout performer. Her debut album dropped earlier this year, and we were so pleased to announce this award in conjunction with the much anticipated release.
Career Act - Spoon
Local hero Britt Daniel and his band Spoon have been enchanting audiences for over 20 years. Having recently released one of the best albums of their career, They Want My Soul, their sounds are still as fresh and dynamic as the day they started. It's an honor to present the Grulke Prize to a band near and dear to Brent.
SXSW 2014 Grulke Prize Winners
Developing US Act: Future Islands
Developing Non-US Act: The Strypes
Career Act: Damon Albarn
SXSW 2013 Grulke Prize Winners
Developing US Act: Haim
Developing Non-US Act: CHVRCHES
Career Act: The Flaming Lips
Photo Credits, from top:
Brent Grulke, 1961-2012
Leon Bridges photo by Alli Harvey / Getty Images
Courtney Barnett photo by Scott Dudelson / Getty Images
Spoon photo by John Shearer / Getty Images