Birmingham soul singer Laura Mvula is favourite to win the £20,000 Mercury Music Prize on Wednesday.
Bookmakers have made the 27-year-old odds-on to win, ahead of the likes of David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys.
Mvula's debut album, Sing To The Moon, is a lush, orchestrated mixture of pop, soul and jazz, which charted at number nine when it was released in March.
The Mercury prize, for the best British album of the year, will be handed out at London's Roundhouse at 22:00 GMT,
For the last three years, the bookmaker's favourite has won - with trophies going to The xx, PJ Harvey and Alt-J.
Laura Mvula's chances: Lizo Mzimba reports
Dance duo Disclosure are Mvula's closest competition, for their record Settle, which melds the soulful energy of 90s house and garage to modern electronica.
Oxford rock group Foals are third favourites, with odds of 11/2.
Bowie, who broke a 10-year silence with his album The Next Day, lags behind in fourth place.
Mvula has had a big year, playing on Glastonbury's Pyramid stage and supporting Prince on tour.
It's a stark contrast to her life two years ago, when she was answering phones for the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Influenced by a capella groups and her jazz-loving father, she has described herself as "the geeky kid of R&B".
But the Independent described the record as a "disastrously over-egged pudding".
Established in 1992, the Mercury Prize has recognised albums such as Pulp's Different Class and Primal Scream's Screamadelica.
But the judges, who remain anonymous until after the prize-giving ceremony, can be unpredictable.
In 2009, the prize went to little-known rap artist Speech Debelle. Even her record company was taken by surprise - and failed to get enough copies of the album into shops to capitalise on the publicity.
This year, notable albums by London Grammar and My Bloody Valentine failed to make the list - with the latter band complaining bitterly about their exclusion.
In an interview with The Guardian, frontman Kevin Shields said their critically-lauded mbv had failed to meet eligibility criteria because the band had sold it exclusively through their own website.
"Our album's not a real album because it's independent," he said. "The corporate-ness has got to such a point where we've essentially been told that we don't exist."
This year's nominees were whittled down from a long list of 220, submitted to the jury by their record labels.
The list has been criticised for being too mainstream - with five number ones and seven former nominees among the 12 competitors.
Whoever wins is likely to enjoy a significant sales boost. The Official Charts Company says Rudimental, Jake Bugg and Disclosure have already benefitted, selling more than 23,000 copies apiece since nominations were announced last month.