Parks, who won the first award of the night for Breakthrough Artist, later delivered a stunning performance of ‘Hope’ on a stage surrounded by sunflowers. Parks was also accompanied by a brass band
Parks added a special spoken word section towards the end of the song, which touched on themes of the coronavirus pandemic, loneliness and hope.
Parks said: “We have been so quietly strong for so long, watch the white of the walls you stare at the phone on zoom or on calls although we’re apart, although we’ve felt small, we burn bright with light, we’ve learned how to talk, we’ve all thought to bloom together and tall.
“There’s dark in the world but love makes us grow…you’re not alone.”
You can watch the full performance below.
Other notable wins in the evening came for Little Mix, who became the first female group to win Best British Group, Dua Lipa – who won Best British Female and Best Album awards – and Taylor Swift, who was awarded the BRITs Global Icon Award.
In their acceptance speech, Little Mix said: “It’s not easy being a female in the UK pop industry. We’ve seen the white male dominance, misogny, sexism and lack of diversity.
“We’re proud of how we’ve stuck together, stood our ground, surrounded ourselves with strong women and are now using our voices more than ever. The fact that a girl band has never won this award really does speak volumes. This award isn’t just for us, it’s for The Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud – all of the incredible, incredible female bands – this one’s for you.”
Dua Lipa used her speech to celebrate Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, a nurse who fought to make the NHS fairer and improve equality. Lipa also called out Johnson’s one percent pay rise for nurses in her speech.
“[Anionwu]…said that there’s a massive disparity between gratitude and respect for frontline workers because it’s very good to clap for them but we need to pay them.
“And so I think what we should do is we should all give a massive massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a fair pay rise for our frontline.”
Other winners on the night included HAIM, The Weeknd, Harry Styles and Griff. You can see the full list of winners here.
The BRITs 2021 served as a government COVID pilot event, meaning that a scaled-back live audience – largely made up of NHS and key workers – could attend the ceremony without the need to wear masks or social distance.
Check back at NME.COM for all the latest news and interviews from the BRIT Awards 2021.