Brits Rising Star award: British girlband Flo beat Nia Archives and Cat Burns

Flo have become the first group to win the Brits Rising Star award (formerly known as the Critics’ Choice award).

The British girl group beat producer Nia Archives and songwriter Cat Burns to the prize. In a statement they described themselves as “shocked and grateful” at releasing their first music and winning a Brit award in the same year.

“It’s truly a dream come true,” they said. “We feel so empowered creating the music we love and we hope others feel that too.”

The London-based trio of Jorja Douglas, Stella Quaresma and Renée Downer, all aged 19 or 20, formed Flo in 2019. Quaresma and Downer met at the Sylvia Young theatre school, and met Douglas at the auditions that produced the band.

They signed to Island records in 2020 and released their debut single, Cardboard Box, produced by MNEK, in March 2022, following a stint in artist development and at writing camps. The throwback R&B song earned them comparisons to Sugababes and TLC, artists that the band have said they discovered through their parents. In July, they released their debut EP, The Lead, which has been streamed more than 70m times.

The trio made their US TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in October, and their UK TV debut on Later… With Jools Holland a month later.

Flo are the rare girlband in an otherwise barren pop landscape, following Little Mix’s farewell tour earlier this year. Of the dearth, Douglas theorised to NME that “it’s hard putting girls together as the chemistry is not easy to find. We haven’t had to sell our friendship or force it to come across authentically, as for us it comes so naturally.”

Of their ambitions, she said: “Take the Spice Girls for example, it wasn’t just about the singing, you knew each of their personalities … we really want to show who we are, too.”

The Rising Star shortlist is selected by an invited panel of editors, critics, radio and music TV executives along with songwriters, producers and promoters. The award is open to British artists who, as of 31 October 2022, have not had an album in the UK Top 20, or more than one UK Top 20 single.

The 2023 Brit awards take place on 11 February at London’s O2 Arena.