BIMM Group

Ema Stapleton at the BRITS

24th February 2020

BIMM Dublin vocals graduate Ema Stapleton (pictured right) recalls her attendance at the recent BRIT Awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena with fellow BIMM graduate Sammi Doherty and BIMM Bristol Promotional Events Manager David Macsorley. 

In November, I was accepted to be on the official voting panel for the BRIT Awards 2020 after I had applied as a BIMM staff member one month previous. It was an exciting opportunity to participate on the voting panel to help in determining this year’s nominees for the prestigious awards. When the nominees were announced I eagerly checked to see which of the artists I voted for had received a nomination, particularly the Irish and the female acts. I was delighted to see that FKA Twigs had been nominated for British Female Solo Artist and Dermot Kennedy for International Male Solo Artist. Although neither of these artists won in their respective categories, it was great to see women and Irish people represented amongst the nominees.

As far as I was concerned, my moment in the BRITs spotlight was over at this point; however, shortly before the official award ceremony I was allocated a ticket to attend the BRITs at the O2 in London along with a group of staff from across the BIMM colleges. The night opened with an exhilarating performance of ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ from Mabel, followed closely by Lewis Capaldi’s captivating ‘Someone You Loved.’ Both artists won awards on the night, as did Stormzy and Dave whom each gave impassioned, politically charged speeches. Another touching moment from the night was Billie Eilish’s emotional words upon collecting her award, stating spontaneously that she felt ‘very hated recently,’ but that performing at the BRITs had made her want to cry.

The BRITs are highly impressive in scale when witnessed on the television, but it is a completely different experience seeing it all unfold in person. At any moment there could be an award announcement happening on the main stage, a performer setting up on another stage, and a third stage being constructed to fit the following performer’s needs. Harry Styles’ performance was particularly impressive in terms of its production. The stage was transformed into a shallow pool of water, within which stood Styles himself and two pianos featuring cascading water features. Lizzo also performed an excellent medley of her biggest hits.

One fascinating element of watching the BRITs live that television viewers do not get to see is the time after the performance ends when an artist walks offstage; in Styles’ case, he did not so much walk as he did wade to the side of the stage before shaking water off both of his drenched trouser legs! These glimpses behind the scenes of what gets televised for the BRIT Awards really puts into perspective the intensive planning of minute details that go into an event like this. I hope future BRIT Awards will continue to have as many BIMM graduates involved as it has in past years, whether they are working backstage sound engineering or administrating, performing, or being nominated and receiving awards.


James Watts

Social Media Assistant, Professional Bassist and Music Journalist. Career highlights include performing at some of the UK's premier music festivals, recording in Abbey Road and interviewing Debbie Harry.