Sam Fender wins 2019 Brits Critics’ Choice award for songs tackling ‘toxic masculinity’ and male suicide

Sam Fender, the Tyneside singer whose songs tackle “toxic masculinity” and male suicide, has been named the 2019 Brit Awards Critics’ Choice winner.

Fender, 23, from the fishing port of North Shields, has racked up 6m streams for his guitar-based songs, which draw upon the musician’s experiences of growing up in the North East.

The Critics’ Choice award has previously helped catapult the likes of Adele, Sam Smith and Florence + The Machine to chart-topping success. Lewis Capaldi and Mahalia were this year’s runners-up.

‘Dead Boys’

The title track of Fender’s debut EP Dead Boys, recorded at his warehouse studio next to the River Tyne, was prompted by the suicide of a pair of close friends.

The Brit Awards Critics’ Choice nominees (left to right) Sam Fender, Mahalia and Lewis Capaldi,

“If it gets to one person and they feel like they should reach out and talk to somebody, then it has done a good job,” said Fender, who blamed “toxic masculinity and the idea of what a man is supposed to be” for mental health pressures suffered by young men.

Fender’s song Play God, a viral hit, speaks of the dangers of fake news.

‘Truly humbled’

Fender said he was “truly humbled” to win the award. “We’ve played literally hundreds of shows this year, and we’re going to go even harder in 2019,” he promised.

“Most importantly, a big shout to my fans. I’ve met a lot of you over the last few years and it’s truly an honour to get up and play night after night to such a wonderful bunch of people.”

Brit Awards Chairman Jason Iley said: “Many congratulations to Sam Fender. He is an exceptional young artist, with a bright future ahead of him.”

Fender will be presented with his trophy, designed by architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, at the Brit awards in February.

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