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Griff is the 2021 winner of the Brit Award for rising star. She beat out Pa Salieu and Rina Sawyama, who was named a finalist after a rule change made the Japan-born artist eligible for the award.

Griff, who was born Sarah Faith Griffiths, is just 20, making her one of the youngest winners in this category. Adele was 19 when she won in 2008. Jorja Smith was 20 when she won in 2018.

On learning that she had won, Griff exclaimed: “In my head I’m still screaming from the phone call when I found out. It’s honestly such a miracle: how on earth did we manage to win a Brit and break through during a pandemic?”

The winner was announced early on March 19 (London time) almost two months before this year’s Brit Awards on May 11. Current plans are for the awards to be presented at O2 arena on ITV and ITV Hub.

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Griff is the fourth artist of color to win the rising star award, which originated in 2008 as the Brit critics’ choice award. Emeli Sandé was the first, in 2012, followed by Smith three years ago and Celeste  last year. (Celeste is a current Oscar nominee for co-writing “Hear My Voice” from the film The Trial of the Chicago 7.)

Griff is the British-born daughter of a Chinese mother and a Jamaican father. In 2019, she signed to Warner Records and released an EP, The Mirror Talk. Last summer, she was nominated for an Ivor Novello rising star award. She co-wrote Hailee Steinfeld’s 2020 single “I Love You’s.” She has also collaborated with Zedd and English electronic duo Honne. She had a moderate hit as an artist in the U.K. with “Love Is a Compass,” which reached No. 42 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart.

Griff was “selected by an invited panel of music editors, critics from the national press, online music editors, heads of music at major radio and music TV stations and more,” according to a press statement.

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Here’s a complete list of Brit critics’ choice/rising star winners:

2008: Adele
2009: Florence + The Machine
2010: Ellie Goulding
2011: Jessie J
2012: Emeli Sandé
2013: Tom Odell
2014: Sam Smith
2015: James Bay
2016: Jack Garratt
2017: Rag ’n’ Bone Man
2018: Jorja Smith
2019: Sam Fender
2020: Celeste
2021: Griff

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