Multi-instrumentalist Jack Garratt has been awarded the Brits Critics’ Choice prize for 2016. The 24-year-old told the BBC he was “humbled” to receive the honour, which is open only to new artists who will release their first album next year.
The 2015 winner was James Bay, who scored the biggest-selling debut of the year with Chaos and the Calm.
“It’s not something I was expecting to happen,” he told Radio 1’s Newsbeat. “It’s a definite surprise. [I’m] humbled to have been nominated, let alone won it.”
Hailing from Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, Garratt rose to fame through the BBC’s Introducing scheme, which allows aspiring artists to upload their songs for consideration by local and national radio stations.
After submitting his first track in 2009, he was championed by Zane Lowe, who made his debut single, Worry, his “next hype” track. He has since played the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds and headlined Radio 1’s Future Festival.
Garratt’s music almost defies categorisation, cherry-picking sounds from rock, pop, dubstep and experimental electronica, with his soaring vocals the sole connective tissue.
The Critics’ Choice Award comes 10 years after the musician entered the junior version of the Eurovision Song Contest – crashing out in the heats, when his song, The Girl, finished in last place.
“It was the first song I’d ever written, I had a massive afro. It was the most horrifying experience of my entire life,” he told the Evening Standard earlier this year.
His debut album is due to be released in the spring and he will perform at the Brits nomination party in January, alongside Jess Glynne and pop band Years and Years.
“If anything I feel totally safe and in fantastic company,” he said. “I may not live up to those kinds of expectations but I will work and work as hard as I can to keep the prestige of the award alive, 100 per cent.”
The recipient is chosen by a team of experts – including music journalists and music programmers at major TV and radio stations – and more than 100 artists were considered for this year’s shortlist.
The 2016 Brit Awards take place on 24 February at London’s O2 Arena, hosted by Ant and Dec.