This year, the MOBO Awards are celebrating a major milestone – turning 20 years old. A week before the big event, the MOBOs held a pre-ceremony gala on 27 October 2016 where the awards for Best R’n’B/Soul, Best Gospel, Best Jazz and Best African acts were up for grabs.
As you can imagine, the stars came out in full force. This might not have been the main show, but there was no shortage of glitz and glamour! Jazz, gospel, R’n’B, soul and afrobeats were certainly very well represented!
Take Ayanna Witter-Johnson, for example. The singer/songwriter and cellist opened the show with a spell-binding performance that left the crowd stunned. Even after the night was over, R&B/Soul songstress Terri Walker was singing Ayanna’s praises on Twitter.
Did I mention that Ayanna also came through with the most immaculate make-up and fro on fleek? Incredible talent, face beat and Shea Moisture goodness in one chilled, bubbly package. It was almost too much for me.
Then, there was the divalicious Temi Dollface. Rocking an upcycled vintage leather jacket complete with silver spikes, Temi recalled the humble beginnings of her love for vintage – it was all she could afford as a broke student! Looking back on her fashion choices, she shuddered when she remembered a horrid pair of shiny leathery leggings she quickly transformed into funky shorts once she realised the error of her ways.
Our self-proclaimed magpie never likes to throw anything away so we’ll be seeing Temi on the red carpet in cleverly upcycled pieces for a long time to come.
Actress Dorcas Shola Fapson was another stylish lady in black. She came bearing good news for fans of the hit MTV Base web series Shuga. Another season will be coming soon since filming will be underway before the end of 2016. Dorcas, who plays Sophie on the show, couldn’t give us any more details but we’ll definitely be on the lookout for new episodes. She also refused to tell us which Afrobeats act she was rooting for, instead giving us no more than a cheeky smile.
Giving young talent like Alika a chance to shine stood out as the most important thing about events like the MOBOs.
The award for Best African Act ultimately went to starboy Wizkid who couldn’t attend the ceremony, so the MOBO was accepted on his behalf. We caught up with one of the nominees Mr Eazi after the show, and he also has a project in the works. The Skin Tight crooner might not have walked away with an award, but he was very happy to soak in the ‘good vibes’ of the ‘magical’ night. Of course, we had to get a picture of the man and his signature hat.
Another huge win came in the MOBO Unsung category, which recognises unsigned talent. Singer and rapper Alika was visibly emotional after receiving the award. She told us she applied for the category every year, and couldn’t believe she had been shortlisted in the top 20 – let alone winning the prize. To her, juggling motherhood with her day job as a sound engineer and pursuing a budding music career was a balancing act.
‘I just do it for the love. Music and life go together; the love gets me through.’
Giving young talent like Alika a chance to shine stood out as the most important thing about events like the MOBOs. Soul singer Jahméne Douglas (below) praised the MOBOs for this, saying he personally felt the impact of the MOBOs because there were few other platforms where soul/gospel artists like him could shine. Jahméne first burst on to the UK music scene during Season 9 of The X Factor, where he came second. Now, he is working on his second album Unfathomable Phantasmagoria aka. one hell of a mouthful, so we can expect new music from him soon.
All round, it was a fun night with a ridiculous amount of talent on display and copious amounts of #BlackGirlMagic. A compulsory shout out has to go out to the aunty who came dressed in full iro, buba and gele – representing for the Naija folk. We see you, ma’am.
If the night was anything to go by, we’re in for an epic night when the MOBOs go live from Glasgow, with my future bae Ricky Williams and Melvin Odoom hosting, on November 4.