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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
Singer Katy Perry poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Katy Perry poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

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.

Musician Stormzy poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Musician Stormzy poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

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.

Singer Pixie Lott poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Pixie Lott poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

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

Alesha Dixon poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Alesha Dixon poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

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.

Singer Katy Perry poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Katy Perry poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

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

Singer Heloise Letissier from the band Christine and the Queens poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Heloise Letissier from the band Christine and the Queens poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Adele, who took four Grammys last week, is not up for the Brits because her album "25" was eligible last year, and took four Brits.

Singer Ed Sheeran poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Ed Sheeran poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2017 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Robbie Williams, indie-pop band The 1975 and girl group Little Mix also are slated to perform at the London 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, along with the three grime performers.

La Havas, who is up for best British female artist, said on the red carpet she was glad the London-centric sound of grime was being recognized.

"For me personally, when I hear grime, because I'm from London it sounds like London to me," she said. "It does in hindsight feel a bit unusual that it was something that wasn't promoted as much.

"But I also think now we've got some real stars happening in that genre, it makes a lot of sense now."

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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