Music awards go gender neutral
Winnie Harlow and Sam Smith on stage at the Brit Awards 2019 at the O2 Arena, London (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
The Brit Awards will scrap male and female categories at the awards ceremony next year, introducing gender-neutral gongs in their place.
Prizes will be handed out to the artist of the year and the international artist of the year, replacing best male and female solo artist and best international male and female solo artist.
The Brits academy has faced pressure to do away with its male and female-specific awards and says the move 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".
New for #BRITs 2022: Artist of the Year and International Artist of the Year - celebrating artists solely for their music, The BRITs have committed to making the show more inclusive (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Y5UfvfZiQi— BRIT Awards (@BRITs) November 22, 2021
The Brits voting academy is made up of around 1200 music industry experts across media, artists, labels, publishers, promoters, retailers and more.
Popstar Sam Smith, who won the critics' choice prize in 2014 and identifies as non-binary, using the pronouns they/them, has previously called for the move, saying they looked forward to a time when awards shows were "reflective of the society we live in".
The 2022 ceremony will also feature four new awards, which will all be decided by public vote - alternative/rock act; hip hop/grime/rap act; dance act and pop/R'n'B act.
Meanwhile, the song of the year prize will also recognise the featured artists, rather than just the lead artists or named collaborators.
The show will return on February 8 2022, with comedian Mo Gilligan on hosting duties, replacing Jack Whitehall, who has helmed the event at London's O2 Arena in recent years.
Gilligan said: "It's an absolute privilege to host the 2022 Brit Awards. I'm truly honoured to be asked.
"We're already in the extensive planning stages and all I can say is, I promise we're going to give it all we've got to create an incredible night for music fans everywhere. Let's go!"
The nominations show The Brits Are Coming will be hosted by Clara Amfo and Maya Jama, who will also host the red carpet show.
Tom March, Brit chair and co-president of Polydor Records, said: "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.
"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.
"The 2022 show is shaping up really well, Mo is going to be an excellent host and I am thankful to him along with Clara and Maya for being part of this year's Brits."
© PAA 2021