Music

BRIT Awards finally axe male and female categories to celebrate artists of all genders

Lily Wakefield November 22, 2021
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Sam Smith poses at the MTV EMA's 2020

Sam Smith. (Getty for MTV/ Madison Phipps)

The BRIT Awards will scrap its “best male” and “best female” categories in favour of gender-neutral awards from 2022.

The best British and international artist categories have been split into male and female since the awards began in 1977, despite other categories, like best album, being open to artists of all genders.

But, after years of pressure, organisers have finally said that next year, they will combine the gendered categories, and “launch new awards for artist of the year and international artist of the year”.

Scrapping gendered awards, they said, means “celebrating artists solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them, as part of the BRITs’ commitment to evolving the show to be as inclusive and as relevant as possible”. 

Tom March, BRIT chair and co-president of Polydor Records said in a statement: “It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible.

“It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender.”

Ahead of the 2021 BRIT Awards, Sam Smith spoke out in March about being excluded from the best British artist category after coming out as non-binary.

In a now-deleted post, Smith, who has won three BRIT awards from 12 nominations – the critics’ choice (now rising star) award in 2014, and British breakthrough act and the global success award in 2015 – wrote on Instagram: “The BRITs have been an important part of my career, one of my earliest achievements was winning critics’ choice in 2014.”

“Music for me has always been about unification not division. I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”

The BRIT Awards will take place on 8 February 2022 and will be hosted by stand-up comedian Mo Gilligan.

Related topics: BRIT Awards, gender neutral, non-binary, Sam Smith

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