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The awards, which take place in London next month, faced backlash after nominations were announced due to all of this year’s Artist Of The Year nominees being male, with Central Cee, Fred again.., George Ezra, Stormzy and Harry Styles all making the shortlist.
This is the second year that the awards have abandoned gender categories in favour of gender neutral ones, but when it was revealed that the UK Artist Of The Year category was all-male, the awards were criticised by fans and figures from across the entertainment industry.
Smith, who is non-binary and called for the introduction of gender-neutral categories in 2021, said it’s “a shame” to see only male nominees, adding to The Sunday Times: “Things are moving forward, but it’s obvious it’s not there yet. From seeing that [Best Artist] list, there is still a long way to go.”
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Smith added. “It feels like it should be easy to do. [The Brits] just have to celebrate everyone because this is not just about artists getting awards. Awards are for kids watching on TV, thinking, ‘I can make music like this.’
“When I was young, if I’d seen more queer people at these awards it would have lit my heart. Awards are there to inspire.”
Following the announcement of the nominations, multiple artists also hit out at The BRITs over the lack of R&B representation in the Pop/R&B category, including Mahalia.
“I’m sorry but UK R&B right now is THRIVING,” the singer tweeted. “Forget putting us in this category. Give us our own!!!!! How many times do we have to scream at you?”
She added: “Winning awards isn’t the reason why we make and release music. We do this shit out of love. But, at this point, it’s nothing short of disrespectful.”
Earlier this month it was confirmed that Harry Styles would also be performing at the BRIT Awards alongside Sam Smith and Kim Petras (performing their collaboration ‘Unholy’ together), and Wet Leg. Cat Burns was then added to the line-up last week.