Beyonce and Becky Hill were among the early winners at the Brit Awards.
The biggest names from the world of music, from Stormzy to Harry Styles and Sam Smith, have descended on London’s O2 Arena for the annual ceremony.
Beyonce won the prize for best international artist, beating Lizzo, Burna Boy, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift.
The pop superstar was not present but in a video message said: “Thank you so much for this incredible recognition” before thanking her British fans and adding: “The renaissance begins!”
Actress Jodie Turner-Smith and footballer Declan Rice presented the award for hip hop/grime/rap act to Aitch.
The Manchester rapper said: “Wow, I’m not going to lie, I never get scared… but I’m shitting myself.”
He thanked the fans for voting, his team and his record label and added “not many” people from where he is from in Manchester win awards.
“Big up everyone, respect. Thank you,” he added.
Host Mo Gilligan kicked off the ceremony with a skit in which he arrived at the O2 Arena via a helicopter organised by Lizzo.
Styles then opened the show with a performance of his hit As It Was wearing an unbuttoned glittering gold jacket and flared trousers.
He and indie rock duo Wet Leg lead the nominations with four apiece, while grime star Stormzy follows with three.
The Brits have faced a backlash this year – their second with gender-neutral categories – after the best artist list was dominated entirely by men, with Central Cee, Fred Again, George Ezra, Styles and Stormzy featuring.
This was despite an increase in female artists or all-women groups across the board.
Smith, who is non-binary and spoke out in favour of genderless categories before the change, said the lack of women on the list shows there is “still a long way to go”.
Charli XCX, who features among the pop/R&B nominees but missed out on best artist, said on the red carpet: “I heard that the reason that there aren’t any women nominated in the best artist category is that the Brits felt that there weren’t enough women in album cycle.
“But I was in album cycle and had a number one, critically acclaimed album, so yeah. That is really all I have to say.”
She later jokingly added: “I just know that I am iconic.”
Black was the dominant colour on the carpet with Styles, Smith, Salma Hayek Pinault and many more opting for all-black outfits.
Performers on the night will include Stormzy, Styles, Wet Leg, David Guetta, US pop star Lizzo, Smith and British singer-songwriters Ella Henderson and Becky Hill.
The Brit Awards continue on ITV and ITVX.