When the recent BRIT Awards took place last week, the event was criticized for failing to properly recognize the contributions of black artists, especially grime MCs. “I felt very disappointed,” Stormzy told Clara Amfo. “I thought it was such a shame after all the great things that my peers have contributed to British music this year, that it wasn’t recognized on a world stage like that. It’s just a matter of breaking the doors down and carrying on, and hopefully after years, the next year or the year after, eventually we'll be recognized on that platform.”
The chairman of the BRITS, Ged Doherty, responded to his detractors in an open letter published today by The Guardian. “There was an elephant in the room last Wednesday at the O2,” he writes. “It was an elephant some might characterize as a lack of diversity among the nominees, but which, for me, was more about the lack of recognition of the emerging music that is a huge part of British youth culture.”
“Britain always prides itself on being one step ahead musically,” Doherty continues. “Britain has led the way and that’s because we’ve always celebrated and loved what’s different. This was not adequately reflected at this year’s Brits.”
He hopes to address this issue in two ways. First: “The transparent Brits voting academy is made up of 1,100 people from across the music industry… it needs to be updated.” He did not provide additional details on how such a process could work.
Second, he plans to change the nomination process. “Currently, to be nominated you must have achieved Top 40 success—but we must now go further. There are performers, including grime artists, who may not have achieved major chart success but who have attracted large followings, including through social media. This level of engagement is at present not part of Brits eligibility and this, perhaps more than any other factor, has caused the nominations to be seen as unrepresentative by some.”
Doherty wants to see quick progress and “ensure that, ahead of 2017, the voting academy will, wherever possible, have equal male-female representation and at least 15% BAME participation, in line with national trends, as well as being more diverse with regard to age and regionality, so that it can be more truly representative of modern British music.”
Read the full letter here.