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Skepta, Beyonce and Bowie up for prizes at Brit Awards

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/22/2017 By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press
FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 file photo, Beyonce performs at the 59th annual Grammy Awards, in Los Angeles. Britain's music industry will salute chart-topping talent and departed icons at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 where nominees include Drake, Beyonce and David Bowie. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 file photo, Beyonce performs at the 59th annual Grammy Awards, in Los Angeles. Britain's music industry will salute chart-topping talent and departed icons at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 where nominees include Drake, Beyonce and David Bowie. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

LONDON (AP) — Britain's music industry will salute chart-topping talent and departed icons at Wednesday's Brit Awards, where nominees include Drake, Beyonce and David Bowie.

Bowie, who died in January 2016, is nominated in the album of the year category for valedictory release "Blackstar" and male British artist category at the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys.

Organizers said the show will also include a tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day at age 53.

Performers during the flashy show at London's O2 Arena include pop-friendly Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, as well as grime musician Skepta, nominated for British breakthrough artist.

Grime artists Stormzy and Kano are also award contenders, reflecting the growing artistic and commercial clout of the distinctly British rap genre.

Robbie Williams, indie-pop band The 1975 and girl group Little Mix also are slated to perform at the ceremony, a showcase for British sound and style with a sprinkling of big-name international acts.

The awards — which celebrate international as well as British acts — have been accused of failing to represent the industry's ethnic diversity.

All last year's British nominees were white, and protesters rallied under the hashtag #britssowhite.

Organizers responded by expanding the diversity of the voter base of 1,000 music-industry figures.

This year's list is more diverse, with chanteuse Emeli Sande, soul singer Michael Kiwanuka and singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas among non-white British contenders.

Keith Harris, who was appointed to head a diversity taskforce for the British music industry, said "people feel there might actually be a breakthrough."

"The question is whether this is going to be long-term or short-term," he said. "That's my concern."

Most Brits winners are chosen by music-industry members, with several selected by public vote - including a best video category decided by social-media ballot during the broadcast.

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