All Saints singer Shaznay Lewis has criticised the Brits’ gender-neutral artist of the year category, warning that women risk being “disregarded and excluded” by the change.
Speaking to the Radio Times, the 47 year old singer said: “Progressive ideas should benefit everyone, but how can that be the case if we do not acknowledge female artists – the female artists who are symbols of empowerment to millions of young aspiring women?
“The birth of the new award has seen the demise of both best male and the best female categories and women, predictably, have suffered as a result. It does not feel right and I have to ask why women now face being disregarded and excluded. Is it because we are not seen as equally bankable by the industry?”
This year’s artist of the year category is entirely male – with nominees consisting of Harry Styles, George Ezra, Stormzy, Fred Again and Central Cee.
Shaznay continued: “How can this be ignored? How can they deny that experience of winning a Brit to another generation of girls?
“If the Brits are meant to be accolades for all, how can we persist with a category that this year has excluded half of the population, women? I’m hoping it won’t be the case in 2024.”
She went on to recall the Brits in 1998, when All Saints were nominated for eight awards – winning two for best British single and best British video for ‘Never Ever’.
“We accomplished so much that night, but looking back I would like to think that the one thing we achieved, above all else, was showing other young girls that anything is possible,” she said.
“Shola Ama won in the best female solo artist category, we won awards in categories that were gender-neutral, but in that moment we played a major part in ensuring that the Brits was a space for women to thrive. Is that still the case?”
“We are showing young girls, the talent of the future, that it can be done. Some of us even do this alongside our number-one priority: motherhood.
“Since our win in 1998, women have smashed through glass ceilings in the music industry and while there is still a long way to go, we continue to rise to heights that were once deemed unattainable.”
In a statement, Brits organisers said: “We are wholeheartedly committed to a considered review of the categories over the immediate months following this year’s event, and this will include industry consultation and discussion, in line with what we instigated over the past five years, with any conclusions and actions made ahead of the 2024 event.”
This year’s event takes place on Saturday, with host Mo Gilligan returning for a second consecutive year.