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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Scrap soulless Mobos, singer says
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Pop singer Gabrielle
Gabrielle has won two Mobo Awards in the past
Pop star Gabrielle has called for the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) Awards to be scrapped because they lack a soul prize and are dominated by US artists.

"How can you leave out the soul award? I think you need to shut it down," said Gabrielle, Britain's best-selling black female singer of the last 20 years.

The Mobos have said they do recognise soul artists, but in other categories.

Award host Jamelia said: "I find it sad and remarkable that people are looking for negatives for negative's sake."

This year's ceremony, which saw stars including Amy Winehouse, Kanye West and Rihanna win awards, had categories for hip-hop, reggae, R&B, gospel and jazz - but not soul.

"I'm really shocked," Gabrielle told the BBC News website. "It just shows how behind the British music scene is because that wouldn't happen in America."

Mobo hosts Jamelia and Shaggy
Just because there isn't a special category does not mean that soul artists are not being recognised
Jamelia (left)
Mobos co-host
Mobo organisers were "knuckleheads" who should know soul went "hand-in-hand" with music of black origin, she said.

And they should not be in charge of such a prestigious event if they did not, she remarked.

"Music of black origin is soul and jazz and anything else that is inspired by black music," said the singer, whose hits include Dreams, Rise and Out of Reach.

"I think we should all turn off. And anyway, it's all the time dominated by the Americans.

"We're still licking their bootys because it pays homage to the fact that they're still kicking our arses, the Americans. They're still more knowledgeable than us."

Gabrielle has won two Mobo Awards in the past - best album in 2000 and best single in 1996.

She has added her voice to a campaign that saw four soul musicians protest on the red carpet outside the ceremony on Wednesday, carrying placards reading: "Mobos where's your soul?"

Amy Winehouse at the Mobo Awards
Amy Winehouse - should she be nominated for best R&B or soul?
They included singer Omar, who had a hit with There's Nothing Like This, and Incognito frontman Bluey Maunick.

And singer Mica Paris has joined in, saying: "The Mobos is a poor representation of British soul talent."

But this year's ceremony co-host Jamelia said the Mobos had soul. "Just because there isn't a special category does not mean that soul artists are not being recognised.

"To the contrary, artists like Corinne Bailey Rae, Beverley Knight, Amy Winehouse, Lemar and Gabrielle are being, and have been, honoured," she continued.

The Mobos had "just pulled off one of their best shows ever", she added.

"The Brits dropped their urban category and nobody made any comment."

A Mobo spokesperson said soul was derivative of gospel plus rhythm and blues, which were both represented.

I want the Mobos to work, but every year that goes by they make mistakes
Chris Wells
Echoes magazine editor
"Just because there is not a specific category entitled 'soul' it does not mean soulful artists are not being recognised."

She added: "We were especially pleased with all the British artists because they clearly showed that they can compete at the highest level with any international acts."

Echoes magazine has also been running a campaign to get a soul category installed.

Editor Chris Wells said Amy Winehouse and Lemar, who were nominated for best R&B, were actually soul artists, adding that he did not know why the organisers "get it so wrong".

"I want the Mobos to work, but every year that goes by they make mistakes," he said

The organisers came under fire last year for scrapping their jazz category - but relented and re-installed the jazz prize this year, which was won by Soweto Kinch.

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