Mobo awards to take a year off to expand scope beyond music

The ceremony, which has traditionally recognised music of black origin, is expected to return in 2019

The organisers of the Mobo awards have announced that the ceremony will take a year off to re-evaluate its future.

Founder Kanya King said that Mobo, traditionally an annual event celebrating the best in black music in the UK and internationally, will return in 2019 with an expanded remit to support emerging musicians, film and television actors, entrepreneurs and other artistic newcomers.

“We will bring the platform to brand-new heights and, most importantly, continue to amplify the exposure of the large pool of exceptional talent celebrated by Mobo,” said King.

The Mobo Help Musicians fund will also be expanded, distributing £40,000 to independent musicians. Mobo will also launch a film production company and has announced its first project, a feature-length adaptation of Angie Thomas’s YA novel The Hate U Give.

Mobo founder Kanya King.
Mobo founder Kanya King. Photograph: Tim P Whitby/Getty Images

Recognising a “glaring gap in the market”, as she told NME in 2017, King remortgaged her house to launch the Mobo awards in 1996. The event was designed to counter the pop and rock focus of the Brit awards by shining a light on music of black origin. She received an MBE in 1999 and in 2013 was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

“One only has to look at the charts, streaming, social media and online to see how successful and part of popular culture British black music has become,” King told NME.

The prize has faced criticism for its frequent recognition of white artists, including Ed Sheeran, who has received five Mobo nominations in his career. The prominent British jazz musician Shabaka Hutchings has also criticised the awards for its failure to recognise homegrown jazz talent.

Stormzy was the big winner at the 2017 Mobo awards, taking home best male act, album (for Gang Signs & Prayer) and grime act. Jeremy Corbyn recorded a congratulatory message for the London rapper and affirmed the importance of the ceremony. “It’s more important than ever that we celebrate black excellence and recognise the achievements of black communities,” the Labour leader said.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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