Founder Of MOBO Says Racism Almost Ruined Award Show

The founder of the MOBOs explains how negative coverage and racist headlines almost ruined the legendary award show celebrating Black music in the UK.

(AllHipHop News) Kanya King, the founder of Britain’s Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards, claimed negative media coverage almost ended the event in an open letter highlighting racism in U.K. music industry.

The MOBOs held its first awards show in 1996 but, in a letter to the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, subtitled “An inconvenient truth”, King said it could very easily “not be in business” after inaccurate reports about the event made sponsors reticent to be associated with it.

In the letter she reveals that, after an incident at a record label afterparty after the 2002 MOBOs, press reports – including a story in U.K. newspaper The Sun with the headline “Stars flee riot at award party” – led to her remortgaging her home to avoid the MOBOs collapsing when sponsors backed away.

“In the article there was talk of guns and stabbings yet none of it had anything to do with our event,” King wrote. “Although our show had been very well received, the perception among the general public and commercial partners changed after that… we almost went under and I had to remortgage my home again to put further funds into the business to keep it going.”

In the letter, King also noted that artists who have won MOBO awards are often only referred to as a past winner if they are “linked to any kind of trouble,” adding that the media will completely erase their MOBO success if they have also won or been nominated for a BRIT Award.

Reflecting on the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and the change she’s seen so far, King went on to add that she had found the pledges of support from some record labels to be hypocritical – especially when they’ve ignored her calls for change for years.

“I think it’s pretty galling, to read some of the announcements or pledges and statements of solidarity when our previous calls fell on deaf ears,” she said. “I am proud of what we’ve managed to do and the lives we’ve been able to change for the better. But just imagine what more we could have done had we not been held back and been excluded?”