"The last year has been surreal to say the least but this really is the cherry on top," said Mahalia, who topped YouTube's first ever Ones To Watch list earlier this month. The 20 year-old R&B singer, born Mahalia Burkmar, has previously collaborated with Rudimental, Little Simz and Kojey Radical and released her debut album, Diary Of Me, on Atlantic imprint Asylum Records in 2016. She's also supported Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé and Jorja Smith on tour.
Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi released his debut single, "Bruises" last year and has since racked up nearly 250 million streams for the handful of songs he's released. His most recent single "Grace" was A-Listed on the U.K.'s leading Top 40 formatted radio station BBC Radio 1.
In a statement, the Capitol Records/Virgin EMI-signed artist -- who opened for Sam Smith on his recent European arena tour -- said he was honored to have been shortlisted "alongside two unreal artists" and would henceforth be insisting that everyone around him "refer to me only as 'BRITS Critics' Choice Award Nominee, Lewis Capaldi."
Sam Fender also said he was honored to have been nominated for the prize and thanked "anyone who has put their faith in my music." The hotly-tipped singer-songwriter released his debut EP Dead Boys – featuring songs about social deprivation, drug addiction and mental health -- this month on Polydor and has built up a strong following through extensive touring. He also featured on YouTube's inaugural Ones To Watch list.
Earlier this week, Brits organizers confirmed that last year's host Jack Whitehall would return. British-Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye will, meanwhile, design the 2019 Brit Awards statue, following in the illustrious footsteps of Anish Kapoor, Peter Blake, Vivienne Westwood, Damien Hirst and Zaha Hadid.