Soul stars joined the cream of UK’s rising music talent on the red carpet as the 26th Mobo Awards got under way in Sheffield.
Mobos founder Kanya King said it was “amazing” coming to the city as she entered the Utilita Arena Sheffield with stars including Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B, the Sugababes, Bugzy Malone and Indiyah Polack – the Love Island contestant who is hosting the event along with comedian Babatunde Aleshe.
Ms King said: “We’ve been getting outside of London for a long time – since 2009 – when everybody said to us nobody will show up.
“And we went to Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and we’ll keep on moving around the country.
“For us. It’s about honouring our mission to celebrate all different cultures, bring people together and use the power of music to allow young people to dream big, to think big and be inspired.”
Ms King added: “One of the things that’s important for the Mobo Awards is to honour the past and inspire future, so having Soul II Soul here – they are the musical soundtrack to my life. So, having them here is phenomenal as well as Sugababes and Ghetts, there’s something for everyone.”
Byron Messia, DJ Spoony and Soul II Soul are set to perform – and Little Simz and Stormzy lead the nominations with four each, with both vying for album and video of the year.
Singer Beverley Knight said: “The focus is still on what’s coming through – the new generation, as you can see, of British talent. And it’s world-class, world-beating.
“When I first started there was a few of us, and we didn’t have this kind of a platform. That necessitated the need for the Mobos in the first place.
“Fast-forward to now. Not only do we have the platform for British R&B, British hip-hop, afro beats and everything else, but it’s world-beating. It’s taken over the world.
“It wonderful, as someone who is an OG, to see this celebration.”
Knight said she thinks the most exciting artist to break through recently is Raye, who is nominated but was not present at Wednesday’s awards.
She said: “There are so many acts that don’t get their due.
“She’s been working and plugging as a songwriter for such a long time. And, finally, she breaks through. And she doesn’t just break through. She’s dominating worldwide. Which is an extraordinary thing.
“That would not have happened when I first started. I’m just in awe of what she’s doing.”
Polack arrived to host in a spectacular outfit, saying: “It’s just so glam, it’s like a real-life chandelier.”
She said: “I’m excited to see everyone perform. I really excited to know who wins the awards, even I don’t know yet.
“I’m just happy to be here.”
Comedian Munya Chawawa said: “Sheffield is where I went to uni, so it’s always lovely to be back. I’ve got the quad muscles to show for it, because everything is uphill.
“It’s just lovely to see such a celebration of black music culture in Sheffield.
“I remember having a radio show here and there were songs I really wanted to play and I felt like no-one would know them. I felt like, at the time there hadn’t been that crossover.
“Now, to see this happening. It’s just great.”