We'll take him!

Artist with local roots makes good

class=img_thumbleft>Antony and the Johnsons, fronted by the mournful-voiced and cabaret-inspired Antony Hegarty,

took home the coveted U.K. Mercury Music Prize


I Am a Bird Now

on Tuesday night, beating out Bloc Party, MIA, and the Kaiser Chiefs, who were favored to win. In the past, such honors have gone to Franz Ferdinand (2004) and U.K.-garage artist Dizzee Rascal (2003), all of whom went on to receive international critical accolades as well as a surge in CD sales.

The award is reserved for British artists, and because the New York-based Hegarty was born in the U.K. but raised in the U.S., his crowning isn't without controversy. Last month the favored-to-win Kaiser Chiefs whined to the Guardian that Hegarty, who moved to the States at age 12, was nominated because of a "technicality." The members today denied they've risen an Atlantic-sized stink about Hegarty's nationality. On their web site, the Kaiser Chiefs claim they are "genuinely pleased to see [Hegarty] take home the award."

Unlike the Brits, proud Minnesotans like to claim anyone who has spent even 17 days traipsing around the Land of 10,000 Lakes as our very own spawn (hello, Charles Schulz?). In fact, if you've ever eaten cheese curds and know where Minnetonka is, you just might be a Minnesotan. So it goes without saying that Hegarty, whose family lives in Minneapolis, will no doubt become C.J. fodder soon. While Hegarty chose to stay in California when the rest of his family moved to the Twin Cities, he did spend a few summers here. And for Minnesotans looking to get a little bit of that spotlight glare on their milky visage, that's as good as being born in an ice house to Sven and Olga.

Antony and the Johnsons return "home" on October 6 for a performance at the Woman's Club Theatre.

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