For the first time ever, a hip-hop artist has won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The Nominating Jury awarded Kendrick Lamar the 2018 prize for his 2017 album DAMN., calling it “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”

pulitzer medal

Up until now, the Pulitzer Prize for Music winners and nominees have typically been orchestral, operatic, or avant-garde compositions. The award is for “distinguished musical composition by an American.” In addition to the historic distinction, Lamar won $15,000.

The 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Music


Also nominated as finalists:

Quartet, by Michael Gilbertson

Premiered on February 2, 2017 at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City, a masterwork in a traditional format, the string quartet, that is unconstrained by convention or musical vogues and possesses a rare capacity to stir the heart

Sound from the Bench, by Ted Hearne

Recording released on March 24, 2017 by The Crossing, a five-movement cantata for chamber choir, electric guitar and percussion that raises oblique questions about the crosscurrents of power through excerpts from sources as diverse as Supreme Court rulings and ventriloquism textbooks.

2018 Nominating Jury:

The music jury, usually made up of three composers, one music critic and one presenter of musical work, meets in New York to listen to recordings and study the scores of pieces, which number more than 150.

Regina Carter, Jazz Violinist, Maywood, NJ (Chair)

Paul Cremo, Dramaturg/Director of Opera Commissioning Program, The Metropolitan Opera

Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies, Columbia University

David Hajdu, Music Critic, The Nation and Professor of Journalism, Columbia University

*David Lang, Composer, New York City

*Pulitzer Prize Winner