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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
The Mobos' road to recognition
Kanya King
King: "The industry's attitude to us has changed"
The Mobo awards - now in their 6th year - take place on Thursday and will be broadcast around the world. Director Kanya King told BBC News Online about the long road to respect.

"We started off in a room for 500 - some seated, a lot of people standing around," she recalls.

"Then we went from a room to the Albert Hall which was a huge jump, and then we went to Alexandra Place - from a room to a hall to a palace - and now it's gone to the London Arena."

Destiny's Child
Nominees Destiny's Child: The US trio are huge in the UK
Along the way the Mobos have become a national event and an important barometer for the UK music scene - a fact which Ms King acknowledges without false modesty.

"It's become one of the most significant dates in the music industry calendar and the biggest champion for urban music in the UK.

"We've now played host to some of the biggest stars in the music industry - everyone from Puff Daddy to Destiny's Child, Craig David, BB King and Sade - who gave us her first performance in more than eight years."

'Attitude'

The growth of the Mobos has, to some extent, been powered by the growth of the UK's indigenous black music scene.

Mis-Teeq
Mis-Teeq: UK R&B in the Destiny's Child mould
"The industry's attitude to us has changed, without a doubt," says Ms King.

"In the first year it would have been very difficult to get anyone senior from a record label to attend.

"Obviously now it's a prime date and the day after the awards people contact us to find out when the next one is - when we haven't even recovered from the party."

In some respects the Mobos remain a very British event - they are racially mixed, for one thing.

'Skin colour'

Ms King has said that it was a conscious move, evidenced by the awards' title: Music Of Black Origin, rather than music by black performers.

Craig David
Craig David: three nominations this year
"We've always said it's about the music, and as someone once said, an event that celebrates music of black origin doesn't seek to separate artists according to skin colour."

But the influence of the US remains huge - and is reflected in the many US nominees for the 2001 awards.

"We can't delude ourselves when we're talking about black music or urban music that a significant amount of it comes from the States," says Ms King.

'Talent'

"But in terms of the nominations and performances we've got a lot of British acts - we've got the So Solid Crew, Mis-Teeq, Beverley Knight, Damage.

Oxide & Neutrino
Racially-mixed Oxide & Neutrino: up for best newcomer
"We want to support British talent and for Mobo Unsigned we search the length and breadth of the country to find the hottest talents in our genres.

"We had this year's finals not long ago and the winner - a 19-year-old songwriter called N'Jay - is absolutely amazing, and she's now going to release a record with Go Beat Records."

But this year world events may limit the US presence at the event, and star attraction Luther Vandross is now unlikely to appear.

"Yes, in a time of world crisis obviously a lot of the American artists are very worried about travelling, and we respect that," says Ms King.

"However if Luther doesn't attend then Dionne Warwick, who's performing, will present a tribute song."

And, though Ms King says she is looking forward to Thursday evening, she points out that before the night is out she'll be planning the 2002 event in her head.

See also:

30 Aug 01 | Music
David aims to repeat Mobo coup
28 Sep 01 | Music
Mobo 2001: The front runners
30 Aug 01 | Music
Mobos 2001: The nominations
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Mobo hat-trick for Craig
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Mobo magic in pictures
07 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Mobo awards in pictures
15 Oct 98 | Entertainment
Mum's the word at Mobo awards
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