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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Are the Mobos good for black music?
The Mobo Awards were established in 1996 with the aim of promoting music of black origin - and have become a mainstay of the UK music calendar.

But critics have accused organisers of abandoning the event's early principles and bowing to commercial pressure. We asked two music industry experts for both sides of the debate.


Steve Sutherland
Steve Sutherland has won three Mobo awards, including best club DJ
Before the Mobos came along, there were a couple of shows which were the template for it, but they got it right at the right time.

I actually knew about the Mobos 11 years ago when it was a small thing. There were probably about 100 people there - and now it's turned into an institution.

Back in 1996, they were filling a gap because there was a lot of dance music and pop music going around, and black music didn't get the recognition it deserved.

But the event has lasted this long because black music has come to the forefront.

I was a small-time DJ before I won a Mobo award.

It was breathtaking - I got a phone call from Trevor Nelson, who said: "Once you win it, it can either make things better for you or worse for you."

But it worked in my favour. I'm on a bigger, national radio station, and I'm seen as a tastemaker in this musical genre. It's done a good thing for me.

There are certain people that are against the event and tarnish it all the time.

But this is a commercial world.

British soul singer Lemar won two awards in 2005
There's no point in keeping the Mobos for a small amount of people. It's for the masses, and I reckon R&B and hip-hop is the masses' music.

The Mobos have made mistakes, but there are other pop-style award shows where there are surprises and things go wrong, too. So I don't think anyone's going to get it right.

Anything with a commercial edge is going to put someone's nose out of joint. And first and foremost, it's a business.

Realistically, when someone like Beyonce or Jay-Z comes over, they fill stadiums. Hence, when they are nominated and voted for, they fill award shows and it creates interest.

Having British acts like Lemar and Sway performing this year is fantastic.

The Mobos are giving a nod to the UK stuff because there are better British artists around now.

In the past, British artists were a bit hit or miss. But it's basically all about mass appeal.

I think the quicker people realise that, the better.


Bigger says the Mobos have largely abandoned their early principles
The Mobos were an event that started in a bedroom with just Kanya King, a fax machine and her then-boyfriend.

It was an event that I personally supported - up to and including its third ceremony.

In those early years, the likes of Courtney Pine, Nu Colours, Black Twang, Mark Morrison, Shola Ama, Funky DL, Eternal, Jamiroquai and Beverly Knight all won key awards.

But by the time the second ceremony came around there were already signs that the Mobos were being diluted - Mick Hucknall's award for outstanding achievement being the most obvious.

In the third year, there were bigger sponsors but it also became clear that the event was veering away from its concept of rewarding music of black origin.

One glaringly obvious example came when Steve Jackson won the best DJ award, even though his show had very little to do with such music.

By the fourth year, America started to dominate the awards and 12 months later it was all over bar the shouting.

Mobo now stood for money, or "music of big organisations".

So, to this year's Mobos. Again, it is little more than a pat on the back and a jolly boys' outing for major labels and American acts.

The best group award gives a token gesture to just one UK act - The Streets. Oh please!

Music of Black Origin? Really? I think not.

Mobo founder Kanya King
Kanya King established the Mobo Awards in 1996
The best UK female category includes two artists, Jamelia and Alesha Dixon, who didn't even have material out in the calendar year leading up to the announcement of the nominations.

Best international female tells a similar story with Janet Jackson, Beyonce, and Alicia Keys all nominated for records which hadn't been released when the nominations were announced.

Jay-Z has even been nominated for best international male, despite retiring two years ago.

But the biggest farce of the lot is the king of Neo-Soul, Anthony Hamilton, being voted into the best reggae act category.

Anthony is most definitely talented, and he produced an amazing reggae track, but he isn't a reggae act.

Yes, I'm cynical. But it is the Mobos that have made me cynical.

They have never awarded anything to the UK's biggest-selling black artist, Billy Ocean, and that is very sad.

I hope one day someone somewhere in the British music industry comes up with an award ceremony that truly acknowledges and represents a music genre that changed the face of music from a truly British point of view.

An examination of black music in Britain

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Mobo Awards: Nominations in full
15 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
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23 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Mobo Awards 2005
23 Sep 05 |  In Pictures
Mobo awards 2005: The winners
22 Sep 05 |  Entertainment


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