Mercury Awards consider changes to eligibility rules after Rina Sawayama backlash

The award organisers have been in touch with Rina to say they are looking at updating their rules

03.08.20

Words by: Billy Ward

Rina Sawayama has stated that Mercury Awards organiser the BPI has told her it is looking into making changes to the current eligibility rules, which dropped her out of contention for this year’s prize.

Last week, it emerged that Rina’s acclaimed debut album ‘SAWAYAMA’ wasn’t included in the shortlist for the Mercury Prize as she couldn’t qualify as a British artist, despite living in the country for 25 years.

The current rules state that solo artists must hold either British or Irish nationality and provide official documentation of their citizenship, however, Japan’s law against dual-citizenship has meant that Rina is unable to enter the award ceremony as it stands.

Now, Sawayama has told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat that the BPI has been in touch with her to say that it is looking to make changes to their rules, though it is yet to make a public statement on the matter.

“I’m really, really happy,” she says. “I just want all the little Rinas around the world who immigrate to the UK as children, for whatever reason, to feel as though they can achieve greatness through just hard work and also be awarded for it”.

“Immigrants contribute a lot to UK music and culture and in a measurable way”, she adds. “So we just need to make sure that the award ceremonies reflect the diversity and the modern idea of Britishness that encompasses all different types of visas and situations”.

When asked for comment about Sawayama’s new interview with the BBC, the BPI reportedly emphasised its previous statement that “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”.

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