Bay lands critics' Brits accolade
Singer-songwriter James Bay has landed the Critics Choice accolade at next year's Brit Awards, following past winners such as Adele and Sam Smith.
The hotly-tipped hopeful from Hitchin in Hertfordshire has performed to tens of thousands of people in the past few months with sell-out shows of his own and support slots with performers such as Tom Odell and John Newman.
Bay, 24, beat two other shortlisted acts - Cambridge-educated George The Poet and Years & Years featuring actor Olly Alexander - to carry off the award.
The winner is chosen by a panel of music industry experts who reckon he will be a major star over the coming months. Smith - who was triumphant this time last year - has gone on to have huge success in the UK and has also found fame in the US.
Bay, due to release his debut album in the spring, will perform at the Brit's nomination party next month - along with the likes of FKA Twigs and Clean Bandit - which will also be screened by ITV.
He said: "I'm pretty speechless. After all the years I've spent watching the Brits and even after this year; watching my fan base grow so much, I never thought I'd actually be getting an award myself. And what a huge honour to be following the incredible artists who've won before.
"I'm really chuffed, thank you to everyone who has supported me."
Other previous recipients have included Jessie J, Florence + The Machine, Emeli Sande and Ellie Goulding.
The prize ceremony - officially called the Brit Awards 2015 with MasterCard - will be staged at the O2 Arena in London on February 25.
Bay has been presented with a Brits trophy which has been designed by Tracey Emin.