Brit awards 2024: women dominate as Raye scores record-smashing six wins

<span>Raye accepts the award for artist of the year at the 2024 Brit awards.</span><span>Photograph: Dave Benett/Max Cisotti/Getty Images</span>
Raye accepts the award for artist of the year at the 2024 Brit awards.Photograph: Dave Benett/Max Cisotti/Getty Images

Three years ago she was lost in limbo at a major label, publicly lashing out with frustration at not being allowed to release an album. Now, the ultra-versatile British pop singer Raye has won six Brit awards in one year, smashing the previous record of four held by Harry Styles, Adele and Blur.

She capped a triumphant night for women across a range of genres, with 70% of 2024’s winning acts either female or non-binary – a marked change from recent years when the Brits faced criticism for being heavily weighted towards male artists.

Raye’s record-breaking wins are an astonishing turnaround for the 26-year-old Londoner, born Rachel Keen, who won awards for album, artist, song and songwriter of the year, plus best new artist and R&B act. The only category she was nominated in and didn’t win was pop act, won by Dua Lipa in a public vote.

Receiving the biggest award of the night, for album of the year, Raye brought her grandmother on stage in a moment that had many in the crowd in tears – as well as Raye herself. “I’m ugly crying on national television,” she said. “I’m so proud of this album, I’m in love with music – all I ever wanted to be was an artist.”

Despite her best new artist win, Raye actually released her first music 10 years ago, flitting between styles as she gained a reputation as a charismatic guest vocalist on pop-dance tracks. She brought drama to the moody Secrets by Regard, yearning to Joel Corry’s sunny Bed, and puckishly dismissed chat-up lines on Jax Jones’s You Don’t Know Me – all three reached the UK Top Five.

Related: ‘I’m angry, I’m raging’: how Raye took on her record label – and won

But Raye’s solo music was fitful, and in June 2021 she expressed anger at her label Polydor on Twitter (now X), alleging that she was told the release of her debut album was contingent on the chart success of her solo tracks. “Imagine the PRESSURE of me waking up every day frantically looking at numbers and stats,” she wrote. “If I am going to suffer I am NOT going to do it in silence any more.” Polydor said they were saddened by her statement, and she was released from her four-album deal the following month.

Releasing her music independently in partnership with a distribution company, she quickly turned her career around: Escapism, which won song of the year, reached No 1 in the UK and was her first hit in the US, while the Brit-winning album My 21st Century Blues – an emotionally candid tour through dance music, dark R&B, power ballads and forward-thinking pop – reached No 2 and was nominated for the Mercury prize.

Since its release she has also had a hand in one of the most successful songs of 2023: Prada, a banging dance reworking by producer Cassö of an earlier song Raye made with rappers D-Block Europe, entitled Ferrari Horses. Prada spent 14 weeks in the UK Top Five and was Raye’s second nomination for song of the year at the Brits. It took her total nominations to seven, another record tally.

Raye has never won a Brit award before, but her six wins instantly put her on a par with Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, David Bowie, Phil Collins and Oasis who also have six each. The most successful artist in Brits history remains Robbie Williams who has 13 wins overall, followed by Adele with 12.

Jungle won group of the year following the release of their fourth album Volcano, containing the sleeper hit Back on 74. It’s the first Brit win for the multitalented duo of Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, who along with vocalist Lydia Kitto and others, trade in breezy, sunlit soul and funk. Like Raye, they are now releasing independently after an earlier spell with a record label.

In the international categories, R&B vocalist SZA was named artist of the year following the release of her masterpiece album SOS, a multi-genre exploration of hard-fought love and self-knowledge. Indie supergroup Boygenius – the emotive trio of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, particularly adored by millennials and gen Z – won group of the year, and Miley Cyrus won song of the year for Flowers, which spent 10 weeks at UK No 1 in early 2023.

Joining Raye and Lipa’s wins in the genre categories – voted for by the public rather than the musicians and industry figures in the Brits Academy who choose the rest – are Sheffield pop-metallers Bring Me the Horizon who won alternative/rock act, and Calvin Harris, who won dance act. It’s his third win from 15 nominations over the years, and Harris was among the performers at the awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena, playing Miracle, his chart-topping trance-revival track with Ellie Goulding on vocals. Other live performers included Raye, Lipa, Jungle and Canadian pop star Tate McRae.

Casisdead beat four much more commercially successful names to win hip-hop/grime/rap act, testament to the fiercely admiring fandom for a MC who has walked his own scene-resistant path during 20 years in the British underground. He has never revealed his face or identity, instead wearing a variety of masks for music videos and public appearances. He released his long-awaited debut album Famous Last Words in 2023: a high-concept, 80s-tinged crime narrative with collaborators including Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys and Stranger Things composer Kyle Dixon.

Previously announced awards went to Chase & Status, another of the night’s live performers who were named producers of the year after helping to firmly reinstate drum’n’bass in the British mainstream. Theatrical rockers the Last Dinner Party were named Rising Star, and Kylie Minogue, who closed the ceremony, was named Global Icon.

Save from Raye calling for better financial deals for songwriters, there were relatively few outspoken comments compared with previous years from the musicians – but the award presenters stepped into the breach. Former postmistress Jo Hamilton, who was among those negatively affected by the Horizon controversy, said: “Please could you keep on supporting us, because in spite of what the government says, they are not paying the postmasters.” Prior to awarding Cyrus, drag queen Bimini Bon Boulash said: “Right now in the UK it’s a really difficult time for a lot of people, and trans people and non binary people more so. I want you to know that everyone in this room loves you and you are valid, and trans rights are human rights.”

The success of women at this year’s Brits follows similar success at the 2024 Grammys, where Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Victoria Monét respectively won the four biggest awards of record, album, song of the year, and best new artist. Female artists also won all four pop categories (plus traditional pop vocal album), all five rock and alternative categories, and four out of five R&B categories.

Brit awards 2024: full list of winners

Album of the year: Raye – My 21st Century Blues
Artist of the year: Raye
Song of the year: Raye – Escapism
Group of the year: Jungle
Best new artist: Raye
International artist of the year: SZA
International song of the year: Miley Cyrus – Flowers
International group of the year: Boygenius
Alternative/rock act: Bring Me the Horizon
Hip-hop/grime/rap act: Casisdead
Dance act: Calvin Harris
Pop act: Dua Lipa
R&B act: Raye
Rising Star: The Last Dinner Party
Producer of the year: Chase & Status
Songwriter of the year: Raye
Global Icon: Kylie Minogue

• This story was updated on Sunday 3 March to correct Tate McRae’s nationality.