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Elton Helps Pick New Pantheon's #1

Friday 31 March 2006 @ 18:13 - GMT

Sufjan Stevens has been named the first winner of the New Pantheon Award, according to Dotmusic.com.

The acclaimed folk rock star is the first recipient of the prize for 2005's Illinois album, beating nine other finalists to take the honour. That means besides getting a trophy, he is $5,000 richer.

The New Pantheon replaces the Shortlist Prize - America's equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize - which recognises LPs that have sold less than 500,000 in the States.

Amongst the panel who chose this year's winner were Elton, Dave Matthews, Beck, Ric OcasekShirley Manson and Keith Urban.

Illinois is the second of the artist's projected 50 state musical chronology of the history, landscape and culture of America, following 2003's Michigan.

Speaking about the unique way in which he approaches his music career, Sufjan said last year: "I'm still doing everything pretty independently and releasing things on my own label.

"Most of the decisions that I make aren't based on sales success or money - they're based on sustaining my art and being true to the original goal and vision."