Lewis won the awards for best album and best video
X Factor winner Leona Lewis was booed by fans at the Mobo Awards ceremony in London after failing to turn up.
The 23-year-old picked up awards for best album and video, but was booed after it was revealed she was not there to pick her awards up in person.
Rapper Dizzee Rascal was also booed by the crowd for his absence, after being named best UK male.
Estelle was the other big winner of the night, winning the best UK female award and best song for her hit American Boy.
"You know what, they do that every year for everyone when people don't turn up," Estelle told BBC News on Lewis's reception.
"But I don't think that takes away from the fact that she's a great artist and she deserved the awards she got."
Mobo organiser Kanya King said: "It's a shame that their schedules and their touring didn't allow for them to be here - hey, there's always next year."
Lewis gave an acceptance speech by video for the best album award.
"Thank you so much, I'm so sorry I can't be here with you tonight... I'm there in spirit with you all," she said.
Find out what the stars of this years MOBOS think of the lineup.
Eighties pop star Sinitta accepted the best video award on Lewis's behalf, but could barely be heard above the loud booing.
Lewis was unable to attend the ceremony as she was in New York to perform her "first ever live concert" - a six-song set at Gotham Hall in front of an invitation-only audience.
The event marked the finale of the third annual Hennessy Artistry Concert Series, a series of six private shows which have featured musical acts such as LL Cool J and Ashanti.
The Mobos is the biggest award ceremony in British urban music, attracting names from R&B, hip-hop and beyond.
In the past it has been criticised for struggling to attract US superstars, but this year it was missing two of the three main British winners.
Estelle was the biggest victor present at Wembley Arena on Wednesday.
"The Mobo is a great award, recognised by the kids and the people who understand my music, and who get the music that we do," she told BBC News.
British black music was "on the up", she added. "If I'm anything to go by, it's definitely on the up."
Estelle performed with US soul star John Legend, who revived her career by signing her to his record label.
MOBOS 2008 MAIN WINNERS
Best UK female - Estelle
Best UK male - Dizzee Rascal
Best UK newcomer - Chipmunk
Best international act - Chris Brown
Best song - American Boy, Estelle
Best R&B/Soul - Chris Brown
Best hip hop - Lil' Wayne
Best video - Bleeding Love, Leona Lewis
Best album - Spirit, Leona Lewis
Lifetime achievement - Motown
But she had little time to celebrate her awards, with a flight at 0600 the next morning to perform in Anaheim, California.
Despite the absentees, organisers billed this year's ceremony as a celebration of the success of urban UK acts in the past 12 months.
Kanya King, who started the Mobos in 1996, said it had been a "vintage year" for British artists.
"Estelle deserves her victory," she said. "She's shining not only in this country but in America as well, and we're really proud of her."
The focus had moved from US superstars to homegrown talent, King said.
"It has and deservedly so. We've had number ones from so many of the British artists and they deserve their place now, and you can see the public can't get enough of them."
Soul II Soul legend Jazzie B told BBC News: "We've finished with America now.
"It's very important in terms of where it all started and how it all evolved, but here we are now cutting our own grooves."
US winners included US R&B heartthrob Chris Brown, who was named best international act and best soul artist, and Lil' Wayne, who won best hip-hop.
But neither made it to the ceremony.
The lifetime achievement award was given to the legendary Detroit record label Motown, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.
The honour was accepted by The Supremes singer Mary Wilson, who performed a medley of hits as well as a collaboration with current girl group Sugababes.
Grace Jones presented the award for best song to Estelle
"I do believe that The Supremes have really influenced people like the Sugababes and Beyonce's group," she said.
"We were the model that they used, and that's a great accolade."
The best newcomer award went to 18-year-old east London MC Chipmunk.
He said his idols when growing up were not British or American, but Jamaican dancehall acts like Bounty Killer, Beenie Man and Sean Paul.
"I went from youth club to pirate radio to legal radio to mixtapes to singles to here," he said.
BBC Radio 1's Trevor Nelson picked up the best radio DJ prize, while Tim Westwood was named best club DJ. All winners were decided by a public vote.
Craig David, Flo Rida and Taio Cruz also performed at the ceremony, which was hosted by Spice Girl Mel B and Run DMC's Rev Run.
Highlights will be shown on BBC One on Saturday, 18 October, at 2350 BST.