Brit Awards announces first all-female Critics' Choice shortlist

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

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image captionBrits Critics' Choice nominees (L-R): Mabel, Jorja Smith and Stefflon Don

Before they were famous, Sam Smith, Florence + The Machine, Adele and Emeli Sande were all tipped for success by the Brits' Critics' Choice award.

This year's line-up has just been announced and, for the first time, it's an all-female field.

Birmingham-born MC Stefflon Don is joined on the list by soul singers Jorja Smith and Mabel.

The winner will be announced on 4 December, ahead of next year's Brit Awards.

Stefflon Don has already tasted chart success this year, reaching the top 10 with Hurtin' Me, and featuring in Jax Jones' dance smash Instruction.

Mabel, who is Neneh Cherry's youngest daughter, has also scored a top 10 hit with the slinky single Finders Keepers.

All three artists are previous nominees for the BBC Sound Of... poll, which unveiled its latest longlist on Monday.

image source, PA
image captionThis year's Brit Award winners will receive a statue designed by artist Sir Anish Kapoor

The Brit nominees were chosen by a panel of music industry experts - including critics, record label employees and the heads of the UK's biggest radio stations. More than 100 artists were considered, with each voter selecting their own shortlist of five up-and-coming artists.

Last year's winner was soul star Rag N Bone Man, who went on to have the year's biggest-selling debut album.

Before they become ubiquitous, brush up on the 2018 nominees below.

Born in the mountains of Malaga, Mabel was raised between Spain, London and Stockholm. Like her parents, Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey, her music is hard to classify, but it's rooted in the 90s R&B she used to dance to in her bedroom.

Age: 21

From: London

Inspired by: Destiny's Child, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Aaliyah

For fans of: Rihanna, Jhene Aiko, SZA

Did you know? Her nickname is Lil' Bassy because, as a child, she would fall asleep to the sound of speaker-rattling bass in her dad's recording studio.

She says: "Being nominated for the Critics Choice award really is a dream come true for me. So much hard work has gone into getting to this point, so to be acknowledged by something like the BRIT Awards means the world."

media captionJorja Smith performs So Lonely for the BBC Music Sound of 2017

Jorja Smith was working at Starbucks when she posted her first single, Blue Lights, onto SoundCloud last January. A soulful, semi-autobiographical look at her childhood in the West Midlands (it references the number four bus she used to catch home) it quickly earned shout-outs from Stormzy, Skrillex and Drake - who featured her twice on his More Life mixtape. She brewed her last (professional) coffee soon afterwards.

Age: 20

From: Walsall

Inspired by: Amy Winehouse, Mos Def and Damian Marley

For fans of: Drake, FKA Twigs, Nao

Did you know? Jorja finished her debut album this year, but held it back because her favourite number is 11, and 2+0+1+8 = 11.

She says: "It's an honour to be recognised amongst such incredible emerging talent. 2017 was a very special year and there's so much more to come from me in 2018!"

Stephanie "Stefflon Don" Allen was born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents, before moving to Rotterdam and finally, in her teens, settling in east London. You can hear echoes of her upbringing in her confident, inventive songs, which combine dancehall patois, grime verses, and honeyed R&B vocals. Earlier this year, she signed a million-pound deal with Universal Records and, soon after, scored a top 10 hit with Hurtin' Me.

Age: 25

From: London

Inspired by: Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott and Destiny's Child

For fans of: Nicki Minaj, Wretch 32, Drake

Did you know? Her moniker is a play on Teflon Don - the nickname of mob boss John Gotti - as well as "Steff London".

She says: "I am so excited to be nominated for this amazing award. A big shout out to all my fans and dons for their support. 2017 has been lit and I can't wait for 2018! Mad love to you all""

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