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27 Feb 2017

Kanya King

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Kanya King MBE is an internationally recognised entrepreneur and innovator in the British music industry. As CEO and founder of MOBO, Kanya King is the dynamic force behind the MOBO Awards and has played an instrumental role in elevating black music and culture to mainstream popular status in the U.K.

Raised in Kilburn, North West London by her Ghanaian father and Irish mother, Kanya is the youngest daughter of nine children and grew up listening to and being inspired by black music. Whilst studying English Literature at Goldsmiths College in London, Kanya decided to organise her own live music events to highlight both the importance of and public demand for music of black origin. Dedicated to following her passion, Kanya decided to take this one step further in 1996 whilst she was working as a TV researcher. Kanya came up with the idea of an awards ceremony with mass-market appeal, which would celebrate these specific genres and music influenced & inspired by black music.Having formulated a proposal and business plan for the MOBO Awards, Kanya King embarked on a tireless campaign to attract sponsors and interest from TV networks. Kanya’s overwhelming desire to succeed eventually led her to re-mortgage her house to raise the necessary finances to launch the first MOBO Awards. As well as funding the TV broadcast, Kanya organised the whole event in just 6 weeks. This involved assembling a production crew and securing sponsors, not to mention a star-studded line up and an audience to watch it!

The hard work paid off and the show was a spectacular success attended by the likes of Tony and Cherie Blair, Lionel Richie and Gabrielle. Now in its 14th year, the MOBO Awards Show is firmly established as one of the most prestigious events in the entertainment calendar and boasts a past guest list that includes an array of 'A-list' celebrities, legendary performers and top executives.

Kanya’s sheer passion and dedication is clear for all to see. This was highlighted a few years ago when the Queen invited Kanya to stand alongside JK Rowling and Cherie Blair at Buckingham Palace to celebrate exceptional achievements by British women and presented with an MBE. Kanya is a keen public speaker and lends a proportion of her time to speaking at community, student and corporate functions including Leeds Metropolitan University, Business Link, Morgan Stanley, British Library and Scottish Institute for Enterprise. In addition she is a Patron of the Horniman Museum and Ambassador for PRS. In line with MOBO's aspirations of making positive differences and creating inspirational examples, Kanya recently accepted a role as one of the 'Fortune 5' in an ITV series, 'Fortune - A Million Pounds Giveaway'. This programme enabled Kanya to champion initiatives that she believed in such as the funding of an inspirational speaker so he could create after school youth schemes for disadvantaged young people and the backing of a potential 2012 Olympic hopeful so that she could continue with her training. Kanya King is a prime example of an exceptional, strong, passionate and utterly determined British woman. She has always looked at the bigger picture and over the years MOBO has consequently become 'much more than music'. Achievements/Awards:1996: First MOBO Awards Show;1999: Joined Music Industry Task Force (Government committee) and appointed with an MBE;2001: Initiated the release of a charity CD with 35 British artists and proceeds to Leukaemia and Sickle Cell Society;2002: Presented with an Honorary Fellowship at Goldsmith University;2003: Started annual educational student programmes supported by artists;2005: Started international voting campaign for African artists to vote for Best African Act;2006: Conferred with honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration at London Metropolitan University;2007: Panellist on ITV’s prime time series Fortune, Million Pound Giveaway and accepted role of ‘visiting professor’ for London Metropolitan University;2008: Taken up in Bryan Adam’s photo series ‘Modern Muse’ at the National Portrait Gallery and represented as one of today’s black UK role models in the Black Britannia Exhibition at City Hall.

Kanya is regularly featured as one of the top 100 Black Britons as well as featured in the:Guardian top 30 ethnic minorities in media;Mayor’s power list as devised by New Nation (a number of years);Evening Standard’s 1000 London most influential people (a number of years).

Recent articles about her appeared in Financial Times, Independent, Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Growing Business, Start Your Business, HBOS, RBS and Easyjet magazines to name a few.

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