Beginning in 2022, the Brit Awards will solely honor artists with gender-neutral categories after removing four key awards: Best Male Solo Artist, Best Female Solo Artist, Best International Male Solo Artist and Best International Female Solo Artist.
Instead of the separated Solo Artist categories, the Brit Awards will nominate artists under a single Best Solo Artist category. The last winners of the split, gendered awards categories were Dua Lipa and J Hus (Dua Lipa also won the award in 2018).
When it comes to the international category, the Best International Male and Female awards will be replaced by a single Best International Artist prize. This year’s winners for the prize were The Weeknd and Billie Eilish (who won in this category last year as well).
In a statement on Brit Award’s social media accounts, the organizers said the change was to reward 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 call for changes to the gendered categories began in 2019, when artist Sam Smith (who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns) was not eligible for either category despite the success of their album Love Goes. Smith has been nominated for 11 Brit Awards since 2014, and has won three, including the Global Success Award.
“If you were starting the awards from scratch today, you’d probably do it on these terms,” Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesperson for the BPI, tells BBC. “Why shouldn’t the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran be able to go head to head and be judged as artists... assuming they’re nominated?”
Other changes to the award ceremony include the addition of four new genre-focused categories: alternative/rock act, hip hop/grime/rap act, dance act, and pop/R&B act. These four new categories will be decided by a public vote.
The 2022 Brit Awards takes place on February 8 in London’s O2 Arena. The host for next year’s event is comedian Mo Gilligan.