Emile Sande only British diverse-background musician to win an award

Emilie Sande

Emeli Sande was the only British musician from a diverse background to be recognised with an accolade at this year’s Brit Awards, despite a surge in the number of non-white nominees.

Grime artists Skepta and Kano led the charge with nominations but left empty-handed after they were beaten in two categories by the late David Bowie.

Organisers increased diversity among the voting academy in an effort to tackle last year’s “Brits So White” protests, which saw a number of high-profile, successful musicians left out.

The major review led to a surge in the representation of Black, Asian or ethnic minority musicians shortlisted in categories such as British Male Solo Artist, Album Of The Year, and British Breakthrough Artist.

Despite the reforms, the only British winner from a non-white background at Wednesday night’s ceremony was Scottish singer Emeli who collected her second British Female Solo Artist prize and her third Brit overall.
Stormzy, who performed at the show alongside Ed Sheeran a year after complaining about a lack of representation of black musicians, lost to Rag’N’Bone Man in the Breakthrough Artist category.

Ed Sheeran and Stormzy

The issue had earlier been highlighted at the 2015 awards when Kanye West invited on stage a group of British grime MCs.

Ahead of the event at London’s O2 Arena, artists from across genres praised organisers for taking action over the issue.

Biffy Clyro’s frontman Simon Neil said “it’s about time” as he likened grime’s breakthrough to that of the punk movement of the 1970s.

Simon added: “Britain is so diverse musically, never mind just culturally.

“It’s so important to represent, and if we don’t we’re doing ourselves a disservice, so it’s about time.”
Rapper Wiley, who was not nominated for an award, praised Stormzy and Skepta for “pushing barriers”.

Bowie’s win in the British Male Solo Artist category means it has now been eight years since a BAME musician won the award.

Just three non-white winners have prevailed in the category in Brits 40-year history.

However in the international categories, all three winners came from a non-white background with Drake, Beyonce and hip-hop veterans A Tribe Called Quest all receiving accolades.

Meanwhile the wait for a girl band to achieve success in the British Group category continues after The 1975 beat Little Mix to claim their first Brit.

No all-female group has won in the category since the Brits started in 1977.

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