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British singer-songwriter Rachel Keen, known as Raye (left) reacts after receiving the song of the year award for "Escapism." (featuring 070 Shake) during BRIT Awards 2024 ceremony.
British singer-songwriter Rachel Keen, known as Raye (left) reacts after receiving the song of the year award for "Escapism." (featuring 070 Shake) during BRIT Awards 2024 ceremony.
UK singer-songwriter Raye sweeps Brit Awards

Rising star Raye on Saturday swept the UK’s top music awards, setting a record for winning the most prizes in a single year. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter scooped six awards including best artist, R&B act, new artist, song of the year for “Escapism” and album for “My 21st Century Blues”. Her award for best songwriter was pre-announced.

Accepting the best new artist award she called the win “overwhelming”, adding “this is wild”. “What is actually happening right now?” a delighted Raye told the audience at London’s O2 arena. “The artist I was three years ago would not believe the sight she is seeing today. I’m in control, I’m my own boss now,” she declared.

She had made history even before the ceremony started by being nominated for a record seven prizes in one year. The Londoner, whose real name is Rachel Keen, had been up against six other female artists out of the 10 shortlisted in the gender neutral best artist category following a controversy last year.

Not a single female artist ended up being shortlisted in the category in 2023 after the merging of the best female and male artist categories for the first time a year earlier. That led Brit Awards chairman Damian Christian to complain about a “disappointing lack of female representation”, blaming a dearth of eligible 2022 releases by big female stars. This year the shortlist was extended from five to 10 and included Dua Lipa and Jessie Ware, newcomer Olivia Dean, and Mercury Prize winners Little Simz and Arlo Parks, as well as Raye.

Rocky road

This year’s awards also saw prizes go to Dua Lipa for best pop act, US singer-songwriter SZA for international artist and US indie supergroup Boygenius for international group. Kylie Minogue was honored with the Brit Awards global icon prize.

Minogue also took to the stage, with other artists performing including DJ Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Nigerian Afrobeats star Rema and Raye. Her Brits triumph follows a sometimes difficult path to the top. Before making it as a solo artist she wrote songs for big names such as Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Little Mix.

She also had success as a guest artist on dance tracks. But after being signed by record company Polydor, creative disagreements led to a tearful online post in which she accused the label of refusing to release her debut album.

Polydor subsequently released her from her contract and she went on to critical and commercial success as an independent artist. Her track “Escapism” featuring American rapper 070 Shake took off on TikTok and scored a UK number one hit just over a year ago. The single, the third from her debut album, also topped singles charts in Denmark and Ireland and entered the top 10 in 20 countries. The Brit Awards were first held in 1977. The event is run by British Phonographic Industry, a trade association that represents the UK music industry. — AFP

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