By Adam Sherwin
Arts and Media Correspondent
The Brit awards has axed male and female gendered categories after complaints that artists who identify as non-binary, such as Sam Smith, were being excluded.
The Male and Female solo categories will be dropped from the 2022 awards, as part of an overhaul of the music industry’s flagship event, with Mo Gilligan taking over as presenter.
Gendered categories will be replaced by new awards for Artist of the Year and International Artist of the Year.
The new honours will “celebrate 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,” the organisation said.
The 2021 event excluded triple Brits-winner Smith, who has used they and them as their pronouns since coming out as non-binary in September 2019.
They said at the time: “I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in.”
The Brits consulted with figures in the music industry, resulting in the axing of gendered categories. However there are concerns that having a single award will deprive new talent of the spotlight which comes with a Brits nomination.
The singer Will Young questioned the change. “I only know of a couple of artists who identify as non-binary in the UK who would be up for Brit awards,” he told an Independent podcast.
“How much does something move around? I think it would be really difficult to have just one category because less people would win.”
The move brings the Brits into line with the US Grammy award which removed all gendered categories in 2012.
In 2017, MTV announced that its Video Music Awards and Movie & TV Awards would scrap gendered categories.
However the American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and most film and TV awards currently retain male and female categories.
Comedian Gilligan will become the first black British Brits host. He takes over from Jack Whitehall, famed for his snarky asides at the assembled pop talent, who leaves the role after four years.
Clara Amfo and Maya Jama host The Brits Are Coming nominations show and the night’s Red Carpet show.
The revamp includes four new genre awards, voted for by the public:
- Alternative/Rock Act
- Hip-Hop/Grime/Rap Act
- Dance Act
- Pop/R’n’B Act
The awards will “demonstrate the diverse cultural melting pot that British music is known for”.
The 42nd Brit Awards will be held at the O2 Arena next February and broadcast live on ITV.
Tom March, Brit chair and co-president of Polydor Records: “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.”
He added: “I’m really excited to launch four new genre awards, which create even more opportunities for artists to be acknowledged for the brilliant music they create and produce, and give music fans the chance to get involved and vote to support their artists and help them to win a Brit.”