Shaznay Lewis at the Ivor Novello Awards in 2021
All Saints singer Shaznay Lewis has criticised the Brit Awards after no women were nominated in its Best British Artist category this year.
Back in 1998, Shaznay picked up two Brits as part of All Saints for Best British Single and Best British Video, both for the band’s hit Never Ever.
Reflecting on the win 25 years later, the singer-songwriter wrote in Radio Times magazine: “The one thing we achieved, above all else, was showing other young girls that anything is possible.
“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?” she then questioned.
All Saints celebrating their Brits win in 1998
Pointing to the gender-neutral Best British Artist category, Shaznay described the award – which was introduced in 2022 – as a “welcome and wonderful step” towards musicians being “celebrated as artists regardless of their gender”.
However, she then voiced her upset that no women had been recognised in the category in 2023.
“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?” she continued.
“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?”
Shazay concluded: “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.”
All Saints performing together in 2018
The gender-neutral Best British Artist category was first introduced at the Brits in 2022, as a way for the awards show to be “as inclusive as possible”.
In its first year, Adele and Little Simz were nominated alongside Dave, Ed Sheeran and Sam Fender, with the Someone Like You singer taking home the inaugural prize.
But the Brits were met with a widespread backlash a year later when it was revealed only male artists had been recognised in the category.
Although no women are up for Best British Artist in 2023, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Lizzo have all been nominated in the award’s international counterpart, which is also gender-neutral.
Meanwhile, Grammy-winning indie duo Wet Leg are this year’s joint-leading nominees, alongside Harry Styles, having receiving recognition in several non-gendered categories like Best British Album, Best New Artist and Best British Group.
Wet Leg performing last year
A Brits spokesperson previously told HuffPost UK: “While it’s disappointing there are no nominations in the Artist of the Year category, we also have to recognise that 2022 saw fewer high profile women artists in cycle with major releases as was the case in 2021.
“These trends based around the release schedule are a feature of the music industry, but if, over time, a pattern emerges, then this puts the onus on the industry to deal with this important issue – and the BPI is already carrying out a major study to identify barriers that may inhibit more women becoming successful in music, so that there can be solutions that result in meaningful change.”
Meanwhile, the Brits faced further backlash when it emerged that no R&B artists had been recognised in the specific Best Pop/R&B Category.
Read Shaznay Lewis’ piece in full in the new issue of Radio Times, on sale now.
Radio Times magazine