This is Kanya King, a CBE, the founder of the MOBO Awards, the mind behind the night that is dedicated to Black Music in the UK, the woman who has played an integral part in the growth of the UK’s urban music scene.
Kanya was born in Kilburn London and is the youngest of nine children. After studying English literature at the prestigious Goldsmiths University, she went on to become a TV researcher. During this time, Kanya noticed a gap in the market for mainstream British award ceremonies honouring Black influenced music. After being the subject of countless rejections from financial backers, Ms.King took the ultimate sacrifice of re-mortgaging her house to fund the award show herself; a bold and courageous move to say the least.
The first MOBO Awards took place in 1996 at London's Connaught Rooms, televised on Carlton Television. She expresses “Twenty years in, the organisation has a social and cultural responsibility to motivate, elevate and celebrate today’s creative talent and future generations. It is this vision that binds us to provide a better and more diverse foundation where talent is not wasted and where the creative arts can flourish and develop for the enrichment of the human race and the economies on which it depends.”
Her sacrifice proved to be fruitful in producing what is now recognised as one of the most prestigious ceremonies for British Black musicians. Additionally, the MOBO’s is also recognised for providing a platform for some of the UK’s most influential artists from the past 20 years, during the early stages of their careers. Including Stormzy, Amy Winehouse, Skepta, Rita Ora, Craig David, Ms Dynamite, Dizzee Rascal, Emile Sandé, and Tinie Tempah.
Where international music is concerned, the MOBO’s has also been instrumental in bridging the gap between the US and UK, pulling A-list artists from Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Usher, P. Diddy, Diana Ross, John Legend and Rihanna, thus providing countless opportunities for collaborations.
Her contributions have not gone unrecognised as she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), whilst awarded as the CBE in the 2018 Birthday Honours List. She was named one of London's Most Influential People by the London Evening Standard and named as one of Britain's Most Entrepreneurial Women. King has been regularly listed in the Powerlist as one of Britain's Most Influential Black People and acknowledged as the Media Pioneer Award at the Music Week Women In Music Awards. Her influence is the subject of a dream and the realisation of a gap within the UK music industry! Let us rise and give our salute to this Black Queen, Kanya King.