Adele takes female solo prize at Brit Awards

By Jill Lawless

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 2:35 p.m. MST

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine performs during the Brit Awards 2012 at the O2 Arena in London, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.

Joel Ryan, Associated Press

LONDON — Soulful songstress Adele followed Grammy Awards triumph with a win at the U.K.'s Brit music awards Tuesday, taking the prize for best British female artist at an energetic ceremony in London.

Adele, who won six Grammys last week in Los Angeles for her sophomore album "21," beat an eclectic shortlist of female stars that also included Florence and the Machine, Jessie J, Laura Marling and Kate Bush.

It has been a dramatic year for the down-to-earth north London diva, who based her chart-topping songs of heartbreak on a rocky relationship. The "21" album has sold more than 6 million copies in the United States alone, but Adele also had to undergo vocal cord surgery to fix a potentially career-threatening throat condition.

She gave a confident demonstration of what all the fuss has been about, delivering a powerhouse performance of her single "Rolling in the Deep" to thousands of fans and industry insiders at London's O2 arena.

"It's been an amazing year," Adele said as she received the female artist statuette from petite pop star Kylie Minogue.

"I feel like a drag queen next to you," joked the winner, who wore a sleek black Burberry gown but towered over Minogue. She thanked her record company "for letting me be the kind of artist I want to be."

The 23-year-old singer lost out on the British single prize to boy band One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful." Adele also is nominated for British album of the year.

Tousle-haired singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran led the race for the awards, with four nominations. He won prizes for British male solo artist and British breakthrough act, and had nominations for best British album — for the curiously titled "+'' — and best single for "The A Team."

The red-haired 21-year-old has been panned as bland by some critics, but has amassed legions of young fans through online releases and a relentless calendar of shows.

Sheeran thanked his manager for transforming a "spotty, chubby ginger teenager" to a Brit-winner.

Long derided as dull, the Brits have become a lively celebration of U.K. music and style. Tuesday's event — which kicked off with Coldplay performing "Charlie Brown" and included live turns from Sheeran, Florence and the Machine, Noel Gallagher and Rihanna — brought out a host of stars who blended rock 'n' roll attitude and fashion finery.

Blur frontman Damon Albarn dressed down for the red carpet in jeans and a flat cap, and former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher wore a leather jacket. But others struck a snazzier note. Actor Ray Winstone arrived in a pinstriped three-piece suit, complete with watch chain.

Style standouts included Minogue, in a strapless sky blue dress; plump-lipped Internet sensation Lana Del Ray, wearing a floor-length red gown; and Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch, in a lacy peach dress by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

Coldplay won their fourth best British group trophy, beating Elbow, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and Chase & Status, while Foo Fighters were voted best international group.

Bruno Mars took the prize for international male solo artist, and Rihanna was named best international female artist — a strong category that included Beyonce, Bjork, Feist and Lady Gaga.

The Barbadian singer, who has often been in the news for non-musical reasons since her then-boyfriend Chris Brown attacked her at a pre-Grammy Awards party in 2009, thanked her fans.

"At times when I feel misunderstood, my fans always remind me that it's OK to be myself," she said.

Britpop icons Blur were scheduled to receive a special prize for their contribution to music at the televised ceremony.

The four original members — Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree — were performing together for the first time since a series of concerts in 2009.

Most of the awards are chosen by more than 1,000 musicians, critics and record industry figures, with several decided by public vote.

Online: www.brits.co.uk

Jill Lawless can be reached at: http://twitter.com/JillLawless

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