Japan-born singer Rina Sawayama, who pushed for rules change, among Brits Rising Star nominees

Rina Sawayama's debut album Sawayama was named one of 2020's best by music magazine NME.
PHOTO: Instagram/rinasonline

LONDON - Rina Sawayama, a Japanese-born singer who has lived in Britain for 26 years, is among the three contenders for the Rising Star prize at this year's Brit Awards after she successfully pushed to change eligibility rules.

Singer Griff and rapper Pa Salieu were also nominated for the prize, previously called the Brits Critics' Choice award, organisers of Britain's pop music honours said on Thursday (March 11).

Sawayama, whose debut album Sawayama was named one of 2020's best by music magazine NME, had previously said she could not be considered for British award categories at the Brits or for the Mercury Prize because she did not hold a British passport.

Last month, the singer said she had several conversations with the British Phonographic Industry, which organises the awards, and the body confirmed music artistes who have been permanent British residents for more than five years would now be eligible.

"I literally fell to the floor when I found out that I'd been nominated for Rising Star," Sawayama, 30, said in a statement.

"I really can't put into words how much this means to me, given that I wasn't eligible for this award a few weeks ago and now that door has been opened for future generations of artistes like myself."

Griff, 20, was last year nominated for the Ivor Novello Rising Star award while Salieu, 23, topped the BBC Music's Sound of 2021 list.

Past winners of the prize, which will be announced on March 19, include Adele, Sam Smith and Celeste.

The Brit Awards will take place in May.