Brit Awards crown Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift

LONDON: Hit singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was named best British male solo artist and United States superstar Taylor Swift won the international female solo artist award at Wednesday night´s Brit Awards.

Country music sweetheart turned pop sensation Swift kicked off the night at the O2 Arena in London with a pitch-perfect rendition of her latest single “Blank Space”, dressed in a short black suit.

“I´ve been coming to England and playing shows for eight years and this is my first award. I´m so happy,” Swift said as she accepted the prize at Britain´s answer to the Grammys.

She paid tribute to Sheeran, saying “Honestly I know I wouldn´t be up here if it wasn´t for one of my best friends who took me to pubs and taught me to make a good cup of tea and taught me everything I know about the UK.”

Sheeran called it a ” good way to start the night” as he accepted his award, adding later that it proved the business of selling records was not dead.

Fellow singer-songwriter Sam Smith, who led the nominations on the night, gave a soulful performance of his runaway hit “Stay with Me”, named Song of the Year at the Grammys earlier this month.

Smith later picked up the Brit´s global success awards, while the international male solo artist award went to Pharrell Williams, who accepted the win with a video message telling the crowd it “means the world”.

Rap titan Kanye West was welcomed to the stage by his wife, television personality Kim Kardashian, in a net-fronted black outfit, before he performed in front of a billowing tower of flame.

Veteran pop group Take That also performed at the event, and queen of pop Madonna was also set to appear at the 35th edition of the awards, her first appearance at the event for 20 years.

The 23-year old Sheeran beat fellow nominees Sam Smith, veteran Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame, George Ezra and Paolo Nutini to take his award for best British male solo artist.

Rock duo Royal Blood, hailing from the coastal town of Brighton, was named best British group, telling the crowd as they accepted the award that they had formed the group in 2013 just for fun.

London singer Paloma Faith made an emotional speech as she accepted the award for British female solo artist, beating Lily Allen, Ella Henderson, FKA Twigs and Jessie Ware and dedicating the win to “all the underdogs”.

Swift beat superstars Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, Sia and St. Vincent to be named best international female solo artist.

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