Brits Chairman Ged Doherty has stayed true to his word to make the award show more representative of British music. X-Factor girl group and Little Mix and grime star Skepta are leading this year's nominations with three gongs each – signalling that indeed there will be an increase in diversity at the annual ceremony.

In 2016, the event that celebrates the best of British talent was blighted by the fact that, of the 48 nominees, only four musicians acknowledged were from ethnic minorities, despite the mainstream success of stars such as Stormzy and UK rap duo Krept and Konan. The uproar prompted many artists to speak out, and spawned the hashtag #BritsSoWhite on social media.

In the wake of the controversy, organisers vowed to shake up the voting academy, confirming more ethnic minorities would be added to the panel.

"This does not mean that there is an underlying prejudice at play, but the unintended consequence is that emerging genres of music may not be properly recognised," Doherty explained in an open letter published in The Guardian.

This year's voters consists of 52% men and 48% women, while 17% are BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic).

Craig David, who was one of the many artists that criticised the lack of recognition for Britain's urban music scene, said he was pleased that voting system had been overhauled.

"I'm really excited about the other people in the category. There have been some big albums from people this year, for example Skepta has had an incredible year," he toldBBC Newsbeat. "There are other artists, we could say Olly Murs, we could say Kano, we could says Stormzy. That's who I want to see in the mix."

Nao, who's nominated for British Female Solo Artist, said the change meant that British artists were now in a "melting pot together."

She added: "Music is made by everyone and it's for everyone. Put all of us on the stage, black, white, fat, skinny, whatever."

Michael Kiwanuka, who is up for running for Best British Male Solo Artist and British Album of the Year, said change in attitudes was a "dream come true".

"The importance of diversity is that's what music is. It shows you another view point of how you think in your head and it makes you see the world differently," he said. "It's not just about the colour of your skin, but it's part of it."

The BRIT Awards will take place on 22 February at London's O2.