Rina Sawayama has scored a major victory in getting eligibility rules changed for the BRIT Awards and the Mercury Prize.
The singer has campaigned heavily to have the rules changed for British solo artists at awards events and contacted the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
She wasn’t eligible to enter as a British artist under the current rules in last year’s Mercury Prize for her debut ‘SAWAYAMA’. Solo artists must hold either British or Irish nationality and provide official documentation of their citizenship, such as a passport.
Although Sawayama has indefinite leave to remain in the UK, citizenship had been the issue blocking her Mercury Prize nomination – and current rules set by Japan mean that she cannot claim dual citizenship.
— RINA SAWAYAMA (@rinasawayama) February 24, 2021
Now, she has revealed that the BPI have agreed to change the rules. “I’m over the moon to share the news that following a number of conversations the BPI has decided to change the rules of eligibility for all nominees for the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize,” Sawayama wrote.
“Starting this year, artists (like me) will be eligible for nomination even without British citizenship. The rules have broadened to include those who have been a resident of the UK for five years.
“I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing the #SAWAYAMAISBRITISH campaign worldwide and igniting this important conversation about Britishness.”
She continued: “Without your collective voice this wouldn’t have happened. In my 26th year of living in the UK I’m so proud that I can make this systemic change for future generations, so that in many years to come we can see a more diverse definition of British musical excellence. So one last time: SAWAYAMA IS British.”
As well as many of the artist’s own fans, Elton John expressed his surprise that ‘SAWAYAMA’ missed out last year, writing on Instagram at the time: “Unfortunately, not everyone gets to make that list. So I want to shamelessly plug two artists that were overlooked,” before praising Sawayama’s self-titled record as one of his “favourite albums of 2020.”
‘SAWAYAMA’ featured in NME‘s 20 Best Albums Of 2020 list and received a glowing five-star review upon its release.
“Drawing on every aspect of her identity, Sawayama creates an expansive musical account of her personal history, all bolstered by her impressive experimental song-writing techniques,” wrote Hannah Mylrea. “And on top of that, she’s somehow managed to make nu-metal sound effortlessly cool.”