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30 July 2020 00:43

Fiona Apple Rina Sawayama Moesha

British-Japanese pop star Rina Sawayama 'ineligible' for Mercury prize

The British-Japanese pop star Rina Sawayama has expressed her frustration that her debut album was ineligible for this year's Mercury prize because she does not hold a British passport, Vice reports. Since Japan prohibits holding dual nationality, she has retained her Japanese passport in order to feel close to her family, who live in her country of birth. Mercury organising body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) stipulates that solo artists must have British or Irish nationality to enter the competition and submit official documentation of citizenship. A BPI spokesperson said: "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." The organisation did not answer questions from the Guardian. Prestigious British songwriting awards the Ivor Novellos, on the other hand, require artists to have lived in the UK for one year to be considered eligible.

Sawayama said she wanted British awards bodies to take into account artists who have indefinite leave to remain "and change the rules to what Britishness means to them. The nominations for the 2020 Mercury prize were announced last week: Anna Meredith – Fibs; Charli XCX – How I'm Feeling Now; Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia; Georgia – Seeking Thrills; Kano – Hoodies All Summer; Lanterns on the Lake – Spook the Herd; Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter; Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka; Moses Boyd – Dark Matter; Porridge Radio – Every Bad; Sports Team – Deep Down Happy; Stormzy – Heavy Is the Head. British-Japanese pop star Rina Sawayama says she was "heartbroken" to find she is ineligible for The Brit Awards and The Mercury Prize. The singer has lived in the UK for 25 years, after her family moved from Japan, and considers herself British. Although she had indefinite leave to remain, she does not hold a British passport, ruling her out of the country's biggest music prizes.

"I've lived here 25 years," she added on Twitter, "but I am not British enough to even be eligible for the 2 biggest UK music awards". Under competition rules, solo artists must have a British or Irish passport to enter the Mercury Prize. Sawayama, however, has retained her Japanese passport in order to feel close to family members, including her father, who live in her country of birth. Sawayama has previously benefitted from funding from the BPI Music Export Growth Scheme, a grant that supports and celebrates British musicians, and her album is littered with references about growing up in London. A spokesperson for the BPI, which organises UK music's two biggest awards nights, confirmed to the BBC: "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." Other music awards take a more relaxed view, and non-British citizens can be eligible for a Ivor Novello award, if they can prove they have lived in the UK for the past year.

London (CNN) British-Japanese singer Rina Sawayama has criticized two major British music awards, saying their eligibility rules mean she is unable to enter the Mercury Music Prize or the BRIT Awards. Despite living in the UK for 25 years and considering herself British, the 29-year-old musician said she is barred from submitting her music for the Mercury prize or domestic categories at the BRITs because she has indefinite leave to remain in the country rather than full British citizenship. Japan, where Sawayama was born, is one of a number of countries that forbid dual citizenship and the 29-year-old star said she is reluctant to renounce her citizenship because of ties with family members. Rina Sawayama said she wants to "dream the same dream as everyone else" after learning she wasn't eligible for either the Mercury Prize or the BRIT Awards because she doesn't have a British passport. The British-Japanese artist, who won plaudits for her debut album SAWAYAMA back in April, has lived in the UK for 25 years and holds indefinite leave to remain.

Born in Japan, a country that does not allow dual nationality, the 29-year-old told Vice that she was reluctant to cut ties with family members and renounce her Japanese citizenship. The Mercury Prize, which released its 12-album shortlist for 2020 last week, stipulates that solo artists must have British or Irish nationality to enter. Sawayama told Vice it was "heartbreaking" to find out she couldn't enter the Mercury Prize, adding: "I rarely get upset to the level where I cry. AFP via Getty Images 5/11 Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters Fiona Apple's fifth album was eight years in the making, and sounded as if it had been simmering for all that time. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which organises the Mercury Prize, said: "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." Rina Sawayama, the acclaimed pansexual British-Japanese music artist, has been told she "isn't British enough" to enter the Mercury Prize and the BRITs. Elton John described it as a "phenomenal record", and said when it was released that the queer artist had created "the strongest album of the year so far".

Despite having lived continuously in the UK for the last 25 years and having "indefinite leave to remain", Sawayama is not a British citizen and so will not be considered for the Mercury Prize or the BRITs, according to their terms and conditions. The pansexual artist told VICE that not being eligible to enter was "heartbreaking", and added: "I rarely get upset to the level where I cry. Rina Sawayama found being unable to enter the Mercury Prize and the BRITs 'othering'.