She is Kanya King

Kanya King is an internationally renowned entrepreneur through her role as CEO, founder, and visionary, of the MOBO Awards.

Kanya has displayed the rare drive and ambition needed to help take black music from the margins of British popular culture, made by disenfranchised artists, to the heart of the mainstream culture in the UK and around the world.

Since the organisation’s inception in 1996, Kanya has built MOBO into a globally respected brand, that engages with business and political leaders and allies with cultural icons and creative visionaries. With her expert guidance, the MOBO organisation has established itself as a champion of diversity, inclusion and recognition for BME talent within music, culture, arts, fashion, media and larger society as a whole.

Always an innovator, Kanya sees obstacles as opportunities and has had a lot of practice at persuading people to come around to her way of thinking. The youngest girl of nine children born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, she grew up in a crowded council flat in Kilburn, North London in notably less enlightened times.

Having started contributing to the family finances aged just 17, she was driven to study English Literature at Goldsmiths College and later, while working as a TV researcher, Kanya saw the glaring gap in the market for a mainstream British awards ceremony celebrating music influenced and inspired by black music.

When she couldn’t find a financial backer who agreed with her or many supporters in the wider music industry, at a time when Britpop was at its peak and British urban music was still under the radar, she re-mortgaged her house to fund the TV production herself.

She not only persuaded Carlton TV (the London TV franchise at the time) to broadcast the 1996 event but also managed to organise and book it inside six weeks, serves as a testament to the dynamism of a woman who has become a leading example of great British entrepreneurship and business acumen.

The first MOBO Awards succeeded against the odds, moving to even bigger venues and attracting even bigger names, with many high influencers in attendance from the worlds of music, film, sport, politics and entertainment. Everything Kanya has done since has proved it was anything but a one-off.

Since then, MOBO has provided an early platform for British artists from Stormzy, Amy Winehouse, Goldie, Skepta, Rita Ora, Craig David, Ms Dynamite, Dizzee Rascal, Emile Sandé to Tinie Tempah.

It has provided the launch-pad for British urban music to dominate both national and international charts and has become one of the most prestigious events on the international calendar, annually attracting A-list celebrities and musical superstars alike such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Usher, P. Diddy, Diana Ross, John Legend and Rihanna.

All the time MOBO has been a key part of the growth of British urban music. The Grime scene in particular has long since burst out from its niche to rule the charts and the airwaves.

It has had MOBO’s unconditional support from day one and thus significantly helped provide the platform for the Grime genre’s mainstream acceptance by backing stars such as So Solid Crew in 2001, Kano back in 2005 and many others following suit including the likes of Stormzy and Skepta who had their first MOBO wins in 2014. There could be no finer acknowledgment of MOBO than being credited in the lyrics of many tunes from the genre.

Well done, Congratulations Kanya!!

Share this report to: