Rina Sawayama has replied to her exclusion from the BRIT Awards, which barred the British-Japanese artist from submitting for consideration her critically acclaimed album, SAWAYAMA. Fans and critics alike — like — pointed out the fact that Sawayama was ignored when the BRIT Awards revealed the shortlist for its Hyundai Mercury Prize.

Sawayama has indefinite leave to remain (ILR), a form of visas that provides permanent residence and job rights in the UK. Notwithstanding her contributions to music — and the fact that she has been living in the UK since she was a kid — the ILR status of Sawayama makes her unable to win the Mercury Prize.

“I have just spent my entire life [in the UK]. I went to Japan’s summer school and that’s it, basically, “Rina Sawayama told VICE. “Still feel like I’ve contributed to the UK in a way I consider worth celebrating, or at least deserving to be celebrated,” the artist said, adding that the situation is making her doubt her identity. “[As an immigrant], you ‘re getting to a point where you don’t have to think about your nationality and status and whether you’re fitting in. Stuff like that bring sharp , like, whether I’m still British.

Sawayama hopes the BRIT Awards will broaden the concept of “Britishness” to include a broader variety of people in the future. “When arts awards build their own kind of border protection version of their qualifications, I think it is very problematic,” she said. “It is up to the award bodies to decide what really constitutes Britishness — the very values they honor, which is diversity and opportunity.”

In response to Sawayama ‘s concerns, BPI, the governing body for the BRIT Awards, released a statement: “The BRIT Awards and the Hyundai Mercury Prize strive to be as inclusive as possible within their boundaries, and their processes and eligibility requirements are continually checked.”


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