Brit Awards ‘to be more diverse in 2017’

Next year’s Brit Awards will represent a more diverse range of music, Brits chairman Ged Doherty has said.

Last week’s ceremony was criticised for failing to recognise urban music, particularly grime, with the hashtag #BritsSoWhite trending on social media.

“There was an elephant in the room last Wednesday,” wrote Doherty in an open letter to the Guardian.

He promised to review the 1,100-strong voting academy who decide nominees, so it “can be more truly representative”.

Doherty said he “suspected” the current members of the voting academy were “largely white and with a bias towards older men”.

“This does not mean that there is an underlying prejudice at play, but the unintended consequence is that emerging genres of music may not be properly recognised.”

His aim, he continued, was to achieve at least 15% BAME [black and minority ethnic] participation in the the voting academy, in line with national population figures, “as well as being more diverse with regard to age and regionality, so that it can be more truly representative of modern British music.”

Several artists protested about the lack of recognition for Britain’s urban music scene ahead of this year’s ceremony.

BAME artists failed to secure nominations in any of the main categories, and all the awards eventually went to white acts.

Singer Laura Mvula said she would not attend the show because of “the diversity issue”, adding that black children grew up feeling they were “not acknowledged in society, in media and in mainstream music”.

London MC Stormzy then released a song, One Take Freestyle, protesting over the exclusion of grime scene artists from wider recognition.

“I felt very disappointed, I wasn’t angry,” he told BBC Radio 1.

“It was such a great year for grime and underground music… I thought maybe this year it might get celebrated.”

Doherty said he had met with Stormzy following his comments, and was looking at how metrics other than Top 40 success – such as engagement on social media – could be used to shortlist nominees.

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