MY WEEK: Kanya King, MOBO Organisation

Kanya King launched the MOBO Awards from her bedroom in 1996. Now, she tells MT about preparations for the organisation's 18th year celebrations.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
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I normally arrive at the office of the MOBO [Music of Black Origin] Organisation in Berners Street in central London for about 9.30am. We’re very fortunate to be part of almost a music village – we have [music licensing organisation] PRS and the Music Managers Forum in the same building, so we’re like one big happy family.

I know I’ll always stay late in the evening, so I don’t rush to get in early. If I have a day full of back-to-back meetings, I like to follow up on them straight away, while they’re fresh in my mind and I’m still energised – so I’ll just stay until I complete the task.

This week, it’s been all about the run-up to our 18th anniversary awards, which takes place in Glasgow in October.

Turning 18 feels like a huge achievement, so it’s a special time for us. Looking back, you think, wow – MOBO has changed an industry, helped represent a diverse range of music and given a platform to emerging talent. Obviously, we’re really proud of that.

When we first started out, things were very different. It was before Radio 1Xtra, before MTV Base – now, there’s a huge number of British stars producing this kind of music, who have achieved global success. Back then, though, the music they were producing was considered niche.

So it seemed appropriate that for the press announcement we did last week, we invited Jazzie B – the recipient of our first-ever outstanding achievement award. I had been looking through some old footage and I saw this incredible speech he did where he said ‘I’ve been in this business for 10 years and this is the first UK award I’ve ever received’.

It was really moving to watch, so I reached out to him and he said, ‘of course I’ll be there’. He even flew Easyjet, which is our official airline partner – considering I hadn’t given him a lot of notice, I was quite impressed with that.

We also had girl band Stooshe, who were nominated for a best newcomer award last year – so it kind of felt like honouring the past, inspiring the future.

While we were in Glasgow, we also donned our hard hats and our big boots to walk around the brand new SECC Hydro Arena, which is where the show will be held. The arena isn’t built yet – in fact, we’ll be the first televised event to be held there. Obviously it’s a bit nerve-wracking – but there are events there before us. We didn’t want to be the first, otherwise we might be tearing our hair out…

I remember when our first ever show was on television. People were saying they couldn’t believe we had a show that was on at a decent time and wasn’t on at 3 o’clock in the morning – we were celebrating the music that a lot of young people were into. That was a major deal.

Because of that, I want our 18th birthday to be our most exciting, dynamic show. So we’re pulling out all the stops for this one, we’ve really raised the bar – and we’re working hard to make it our best ever.

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