Dua Lipa wins British Album of the Year in female-dominated Brit Awards
English singer-songwriter Dua Lipa poses with her awards for Female Solo Artist and British Album at the BRIT Awards 2021 in London.–AFP
Around 4,000 guests streamed into London's O2 Arena for the biggest night in British pop music, as the ceremony welcomed guests for the first time in two years as part of the government's pilot scheme easing coronavirus restrictions.
Little Mix won best British group -- becoming the first female act ever to do so. Singer and poet Arlo Parks took the Breakthrough Artist award, and best international group went to the American band HAIM.
In another history-making moment, Taylor Swift became the first female winner of the global icon award, for what organisers said was "her immense impact on music across the world and incredible repertoire and achievements to date".
With her album "Future Nostalgia", 25-year-old Dua Lipa -- who has won three Brit Awards previously -- beat soul singer Celeste, Parks, and rapper J Hus, who was the only male contender in the best album category.
"Last time I was up here accepting this award in 2018, I said that I wanted to see more women on these stages," Dua Lipa said.
"I feel so proud that three years later, we're seeing that happened, and it really is such an honour to be a part of this wave of women in music."
- 'Give Boris a message' -
She dedicated one of her awards to British nurse Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, noting that she had said "there's a massive disparity between gratitude and respect for frontline workers, because it's very good to clap for them, but we need to pay them."
"So I think what we should do is we should all give a massive, massive round of applause and give Boris (Johnson, the British prime minister) a message that we all support a fair pay rise."
The audience, which was packed with key workers after organisers reserved 2,500 seats for them, gave her a standing ovation.
Other winners included Harry Styles, who won best British single for "Watermelon Sugar", and Billie Eilish and The Weeknd, who won best international female and male artist respectively.
US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift attends the BRIT Awards 2021 in London.–AFP
Coldplay kicked off the show with a performance on the River Thames, and Dua Lipa herself performed live, sporting a Union Jack miniskirt and an upswept hairdo reminiscent of late singer Amy Winehouse.
British rapper Rag'n'Bone Man performed live with the choir from Britain's National Health Service (NHS), while veteran American star Pink joined the performance remotely from the United States.
"Having people attend this special evening makes me really excited for touring to come," said Rag'n'Bone Man before the ceremony.
The annual event, which normally takes place in February, was postponed for three months because of coronavirus safety and logistical concerns.
Audience members neither observed social distancing nor wore face coverings once seated, but needed to produce a negative coronavirus test result.
Here are the winners:
Male Solo Artist: J Hus
Female Solo Artist: Dua Lipa
Breakthrough Artist: Arlo Parks
British Group: Little Mix
British Single: "Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles
International Female Solo Artist: Billie Eilish
International Male Solo Artist: The Weeknd
International Group: HAIM
Rising Star: Griff