Dua Lipa urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give National Health Service staff a pay rise as she landed a double victory at Tuesday’s BRIT Awards.
Dua was the big winner at the ceremony, taking home awards for Album of the Year and British Female Solo Artist, and while accepting her first gong, she honoured healthcare workers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She also announced she would be sharing her award with nurse Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, the emeritus professor of nursing at the University of West London.
“She has spent her stellar nursing career fighting racial injustice,” Dua said. “She has also spent so much time and is a strong, strong advocate for protecting frontline workers.
“She has also said that there’s a massive disparity between gratitude and respect for frontline workers, because it’s very good to clap for them but we need to pay them. And so I think what we should do is we should all give a massive, massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a fair pay rise for our frontline.”
Dua later dedicated her Album of the Year honour to Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole – aka Jimi, who lost his life when he and another man tried to save a woman from drowning in the River Thames last month.
“Jimi tragically did not survive… they knowingly put themselves in danger even though they were strangers to each other and to the woman,” the singer said. “It would be fitting if they were recognised with a bravery award… You have touched the hearts of a whole nation and we will never forget you.”
It was a big night for female artists, with Taylor Swift winning the Global Icon award. Presenting the honour, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams described the Lover singer as “an inspiration to people around the world” for her ability to stand up for what she believes in. Pals Selena Gomez and Ed Sheeran offered up video tributes.
Taylor was overjoyed to be receiving the award from the actress and said, “Anyone who knows me at all knows that Game of Thrones is my life.”
Accepting her trophy, she added, “I wanna thank the Brits and anyone who decided that I would be up for this incredible honour. I’m really proud to be part of this musical community, especially in a year where we needed music so much – and what we needed even more was the help and support of the NHS and the key workers that are here for us tonight. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us.”
After thanking her collaborators and family, she said, “There are so many incredible artists in this room tonight and a lot of people watching who have goals and ambitions for yourselves. I need you to hear me: there is no career path that comes free of negativity. If you’re met with resistance that probably means that you’re doing something new. If you’re experiencing turbulence or pressure that probably means you’re rising and there might be times where you put your whole heart and soul into something and it is met with cynicism or scepticism.”
Elsewhere, Grammy winner Billie Eilish beat out Taylor for the International Female Solo Artist, and accepting her award via video, she said, “This is an honour. The BRITs was so magical for me last year and I think about it all the time so thank you so much.”
Sister trio Haim were the winners of the Best International Group award, beating out hot favourites BTS, and finally scooped an award after their third nomination in the category. They became the first women to win the award since 1999 recipients The Corrs.
Best British Single went to Harry Styles for Watermelon Sugar, and former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama was a surprise presenter of the award for Best International Male Solo Artist, which went to The Weeknd following his performance.
In her tribute to the star she highlighted his impact as a musician and a performer, and also his charitable donations to Covid relief, Black Lives Matter, food aid in Ethiopia and more.
“In a tough year, he’s provided a light that’s pretty blinding and given us all a reason to dance,” Obama said.
Accepting his award, The Weeknd thanked his fans in the U.K. and paid tribute to the people struggling in his native Ethiopia, stating, “You are deep in my heart.”
Meanwhile Elton John and Olly Alexander teamed up for the performance highlight, duetting on a cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s a Sin, which will be released as a single, with proceeds benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Other performances on the night came from Headie One and AJ Tracey, alongside Young T and Bugsey, while Arlo Parks, Rising Star winner Griff, Rag and Bone Man and Pink also entertained the audience of key workers.
The full list of winners:
Breakthrough Artist – Arlo Parks
British Group – Little Mix
British Male Solo Artist – J Hus
International Female Solo Artist – Billie Eilish
British Female Solo Artist – Dua Lipa
International Male Solo Artist – The Weeknd
International Group – Haim
Rising Star – Griff
Best British Single – Harry Styles, Watermelon Sugar
Global Icon – Taylor Swift
Mastercard Album of the Year – Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia
– Cover Media