Raye has been nominated for seven Brit awards after overcoming frustration with major-labels.

Estimated read time 5 min read

Due to her impressive seven nominations in one year, Raye has achieved a groundbreaking feat in Brits history. At the O2 Arena in London tomorrow, she has the potential to repeat this success if she wins in multiple categories. Regardless of which awards she receives, such as album and artist of the year, this acknowledgement from the British music scene serves as a significant validation for 26-year-old Londoner Rachel Keen.

In the past, Raye was signed to Polydor and had success on the Top 40 charts as a featured singer on tracks by Joel Corry and David Guetta. However, she faced struggles behind the scenes to release her first album, despite being signed to the label since she was a teenager. In June 2021, she shared a tearful plea on social media and tweeted about following the label’s instructions, but still not being given permission to release a full album. After one month, Polydor let go of Raye from her contract and she continued her career as an independent artist.

Her success in both the commercial and critical spheres has undoubtedly forced her previous record company to admit their mistake: in 2022, she reached the top spot on the UK charts and global recognition with her hit song “Escapism” (featuring rapper 070 Shake), a track that Raye has stated was rejected by Polydor. (The label has publicly expressed good wishes for her.) In February 2023, her first album, “My 21st Century Blues,” was released, reaching No 2 on the UK album chart and earning her the Ivor Novello award for her songwriting and a nomination for the Mercury prize.

She skillfully speaks openly about topics such as sexual assault in the music industry, body image concerns, and substance abuse. This, along with her ability to effortlessly blend rap, R&B, and electronic production, has garnered a passionate following among young listeners. She is set to perform at the highly-anticipated Reading and Leeds festivals for teens this year. Her versatile voice and soulful expertise have also captivated an older audience, as seen during her sold-out performance at the Royal Albert Hall in September.

Clara Amfo, one of the hosts of the 2021 Brit Awards and a former BBC Radio 1 presenter who has known Raye since she was a teenager, believes that listeners are connecting with her because she is truly open and vulnerable with her emotions. Amfo also notes that Raye’s cry for help was authentic and reflected her vulnerability. Despite facing challenges, Raye has shown incredible determination and grit by not giving up on her dream of being a solo artist, instead of continuing to write for others. This is a testament to her strong belief in her own talent and abilities.

In 2024, followers of popular music have a deeper comprehension of the behind-the-scenes workings of the music business compared to previous years, largely due to Taylor Swift’s initiative to re-record and regain control of her first six albums after her previous label sold the master recordings. Rising artists who seem to have quickly gained fame are met with allegations of being manipulated by the industry. According to Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis, independent artist Raye’s achievements after leaving a major label are highly regarded in this climate. They represent a triumph over the traditional industry and will be showcased in front of the entire British music scene tomorrow.

Some believe the music industry stifles talent, but this artist has managed to break through on her own. Watching her on stage, her movements seem natural and not overly rehearsed, like she’s just dancing without a care. It’s clear she’s not following a script; her current success is a genuine, ongoing story that can’t be planned or manufactured.

Raye’s groundbreaking number of nominations reflects the increasing diversity at the Brit Awards. In 2021, the BPI, the organization that oversees the Brits, made the decision to eliminate gendered categories. However, there was backlash when all five spots in the “best artist” category were occupied by men. This year, the category has been expanded to include 10 artists, with equal representation of 50% men and 50% women, demonstrating a shift towards more gender balance. Additionally, more than half of the nominees overall are women.

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The change in the schedule reflects the effort of British award show organizers to stay important. Many young music enthusiasts are not as interested in watching live television, causing a decrease in viewership for the ceremony. However, after moving the awards to a Saturday evening time slot, the viewing numbers have consistently increased. According to Dr. Jo Twist, CEO of the BPI and member of the Brits committee, the 2023 Brits had the largest 16-34-year-old audience for an ITV1 broadcast in over ten years.

Twist emphasized that even though Raye has achieved success outside of her previous label’s expectations, British record labels still play a crucial role in discovering, supporting, and showcasing talent on a global scale. These labels are vital to overall success. According to Twist, artists have the freedom to choose their path and can fulfill their artistic and financial aspirations by selecting the approach that suits them best.

Raye’s decision was to leave and begin again. Among the various accolades she is nominated for tomorrow, the most significant may be the upcoming award for best new artist, which comes nine years after her first EP.

Source: theguardian.com

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