Monday 24 October 2016

'It's a little bit embarrassing to be honest' - Jack Garratt on Brit Awards lack of diversity

Published 24/02/2016 | 20:52

Jack Garratt looks set to have his first number one album
Jack Garratt looks set to have his first number one album

Critics' Choice winner Jack Garratt called the lack of diversity at the Brit Awards "disappointing" and "a little bit embarrassing ".

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Garratt, 24, was announced as an early winner on Wednesday night and joined a growing number of musicians commenting about this year's awards.

The Brits have come under fire as no black and ethnic minority artists were nominated. The only non-white nominees are in the international artist categories.

Speaking on the red carpet, he said: " Obviously there are a lot of people who are not here who should be here and I feel kind of strange knowing that I am here and they are not.

"But I am also very grateful to be here. It is a hugely important part of UK music but it is a shame that half of UK music has been somehow forgotten about which is a bit disappointing and a little bit embarrassing to be honest."

An echo of the #OscarSoWhite Twitter-storm emerged in the run-up to the show with the hashtag #BritsSoWhite gaining momentum.

Brit Awards bosses responded by promising to address the lack of diversity among the nominees, with a "fresh look" at how they are chosen.

In a statement, the Brit Awards said: "The Brits take the issue of diversity very seriously and have always endeavoured to celebrate as broad a range of what's popular in today's music as possible.

"There are no individual awards for specific genres however, and since only a small number of Brits are awarded every year, the artists who are honoured tend to be those who have achieved the very highest levels of chart success.

"Given the rapidly changing landscape of music consumption, it may now be time to take a fresh look at the metrics around the Brit Awards to ensure they reflect the full range of engagement with recorded music."

Plans have been announced for a new advisory committee "comprising respected members of the BAME (Black, Asian and Middle Eastern) music community".

It is hoped this will help the Brits - run by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) - to "more effectively acknowledge diverse, breaking and established talent in future, including genres such as Grime, which aren't always considered mainstream but are growing in popularity".

Brits bosses also plan to survey the members of the 1,000-strong Voting Academy to find out their age, ethnicity, gender and regional background - information which is not currently collected.

The results of this survey will be "assessed and acted on where required".

The statement continued: "The Brits wish to ensure the Academy is also as broadly representative and diverse as possible, in line with future social trends."

British rapper Stormzy criticised the Brits after he was not included in this year's nominations, despite having won best Grime act at the Mobo Awards (short for Music of Black Origin) in 2014 and 2015.

He told NME: "You know when you've got that little bit of hope and that little bit of faith and then they didn't."

According to the statement, BPI and Brit Awards chairman Ged Doherty has since met with Stormzy to listen to his concerns - and explain why his hit single Shut Up just missed out on eligibility by one week.

"Stormzy was happy with the explanation and advised that he is open to being consulted in future," the Brits said.

Grime artist Big Narstie also addressed the issue in an interview on Channel 4 News on Tuesday saying: "The only diversity in the Brits is with the Americans. I've been saying this for a while, for our country to do good, we need to embrace our country.

"Years ago when I was making music, I was sending it off to radio stations and getting told it was 'too urban'.

"But what else am I supposed to make? I come from Brixton. None of my friends go to places like Selfridges. I'm a regular at the pound shop! So what am I supposed to impress you with?"

Brit nominees Wolf Alice arrived on the red carpet, despite posting a message on social media earlier in the day criticising the awards saying grime music "has been criminally overlooked at this year's Brits".

In a long message released on Twitter, they added that the music genre has " dominated the charts, the media and the word on everyone's lips".

They ended it writing: "No doubt they don't need a nomination nor any award to keep running the UK but would have been sick to walk down the red carpet with the likes of BBK (Boy Better Know) or Stormzy and feel how exciting 2016 in the UK is gonna be."

BBK was formed in 2005 by grime artists Jamie Adenuga, or Jme, and his brother Skepta, real name Joseph Junior Adenuga.

Stormzy won best grime act at the MOBOs in 2014 and 2015 - a category that does not exist at the Brits - and in the run-up to Christmas last year his song Shut Up entered the UK Top 10 charts.

Half of boy band One Direction arrived on the red carpet in the form of Liam Payne and new dad Louis Tomlinson.

Adele caused a stir as she arrived in a flowing ruby gown, ditching her trademark black colour choice.

Kylie Minogue said she cannot wait to see Adele performing at the show.

Talking about the Hello singer during a Facebook live stream on the red carpet, the Australian star added: "I 'd like to just go back to the hotel or somewhere and get into track (suit) pants and eat crisps or something (with Adele)."

Good Morning Britain's Piers Morgan was in danger of missing the event due to traffic delays.

Aiming a Twitter rant at London Mayor Boris Johnson, he said: " UPDATE: 2hrs 40 mins to travel 7 miles. Now at Blackwall Tunnel, which is gridlocked. Thanks Boris!"

Former Spice Girl Geri Horner revealed her daughter picked out her outfit for the night.

Horner, formerly Halliwell, told ITV2 hosts Melvin Odoom and Rickie Haywood Williams that 10-year-old Bluebell chose her leopard print Givenchy dress.

Tomlinson said the Brit Awards was his first night away from his baby boy, Freddie.

The One Direction singer became a father in January and announced the birth on Twitter, as he thanked his 21.3 million fans for their support.

He briefly dated Freddie's mother, Los Angeles-based stylist Briana Jungwirth, in May 2015 after he broke up with his long-term girlfriend Eleanor Calder.

Talking to ITV2 host Laura Whitmore with fellow band member Payne, the 24-year-old said fatherhood was good, adding: "It's intense but it's great. It's really exciting obviously, it's my first time away from Freddie."

He added: "I think now is my night to enjoy, to let my hair down."

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