British Japanese Singer Rina Sawayama Speaks Up About Being Ineligible for British Awards
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If you’ve been keeping your eyes on the music industry lately, then you probably know British Japanese singer Rina Sawayama put out one of the best pop records of 2020, according to multiple music critics (and me, of course). And because of that, everyone is expecting her to win big come awards show season since her debut album, Sawayama, received so much deserved praise. Unfortunately, though, Rina’s getting shut out by two majorawards—the BRIT Awards and the Mercury Prize—in her country of residence for not being "British enough."
On Twitter, Rina spoke out about the issue and wrote:
“I’ve lived here 25 YEARS (most of my life) but I am not British enough to even be ELIGIBLE for the 2 biggest UK Music awards, @MercuryPrize and @BRITs. I just wanna dream the same dream as everyone else.
“If u wanna see CHANGE in the eligibility criteria then @ them @MercuryPrize @BRITs @BPI_Musicand tell them u want them to revise the citizenship requirements NOW. Remember this rule will affect immigrant artists who contribute SO much to the UK culture and economy.”This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
if u wanna see CHANGE in the eligibility criteria then @ them @MercuryPrize @BRITs @bpi_music and tell them u want them to revise the citizenship requirements NOW. remember this rule will affect immigrant artists who contribute SO much to the UK culture and economy— RINA SAWAYAMA (@rinasawayama) July 29, 2020
This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
i'm british ! #SAWAYAMAISBRITISH— RINA SAWAYAMA (@rinasawayama) July 29, 2020
Here’s why Rina isn’t eligible for these awards: Although she has lived in Britain for most of her life, she was born in Japan and maintains her citizenship because her entire family still lives there. Ideally, Rina would have to have a dual citizenship in both Britain and Japan to be nominated, but the Japanese government does not allow that. Rina would have to give up her Japanese citizenship in order to be nominated for the BRIT Awards and the Mercury Prize due to their nationality clauses.
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The Mercury Prize says that solo artists must have British or Irish nationality to enter their awards, and part of that process includes providing official documentation of citizenship (like a passport) to the show’s organizers. The rules for the BRITs are similar and state: “To be eligible for the British Solo Artists categories or other British categories, artists must be UK passport holders.”
BPI, Britain’s recorded music industry trade association (think America’s Grammys and their Recording Academy) later issued a statement to Vice UK about the matter and said:
“Both the BRIT Awards and the Hyundai Mercury Prize aim to be as inclusive as possible within their parameters, and their processes and eligibility criteria are constantly reviewed.”
Now, Rina is demanding a change so the awards can honor people in the arts and music industries who contribute to the cultural conversation.
“The concept of Britishness has been in the public discourse in the most negative way possible—it has become very, very narrow in these last five to six years. I think the arts are somewhere that they can reverse that and widen it up,” Rina told Vice UK. “It’s up to the award bodies to decide what Britishness really encompasses—the very things that they celebrate, which is diversity and opportunity.”
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